The builder of a $30 million wall on a three-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border is seeking a buyer for the structure, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
Tommy Fisher, whose company built the only two private-sector walls on the southern border, erected a barrier just south of McAllen, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, the most highly trafficked of the nine Southwest sectors policed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Fisher Sand & Gravel Co.’s other border wall sits on a mountainous half-mile stretch of New Mexico.
The Texas barricade, which Fisher calls the "Lamborghini" of walls, consists of roughly 15,000 18-foot-tall gray steel posts, spaced 5 inches apart and set in a wide concrete foundation, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
Fisher has spent $30 million on the wall after failing to secure funding from the government or nonprofit We Build the Wall, which originally had supported the private effort.
Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, in June announced the state would devote resources to continue building the wall. In the week following Abbott’s announcement, Texas raised $459,000 from private donors, according to Bloomberg – perhaps an avenue Fisher could seek.
A 51-year-old North Dakotan, Fisher said he would love to expand the wall by charging $20 million per additional mile.
"Can you imagine if this was 50 to 100 miles, and this was a bike path you could use?" he asked. "Even if the Border Patrol was over here, minding their own business?
"Texas could have the longest bike path anywhere in the world. Four hundred miles. Five hundred miles."
Fisher told Bloomberg his border wall is superior to those built by the federal government.
His wall doesn’t have the 5-foot-high "anti-climb" plate that graces recently built federal wall — he argues they’re excellent anchors for makeshift grappling hooks — and his steel bollards have been coated with zinc to prevent rusting.
Fisher decided to build the wall after former President Donald Trump campaigned on building a structure for the entire 1,954-mile southern border.
"I was like, 'This would be really fun,'" he told Bloomberg Businessweek. "'This would be a project that would be remembered, like the Hoover Dam.'
"Today the Hoover Dam is the cheapest electricity you can find in the U.S. — anywhere. And, you know, they took a lot of heat, too."
After spending more than $100,000 on lobbying and mounting a media blitz, Fisher connected with We Build the Wall, founded by Brian Kolfage, an Iraq War veteran and triple amputee, and co-led by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
With government bureaucracy blocking his attempt to build Trump's official wall, Fisher became the in-house builder for WBTW.
WBTW paid Fisher $6.9 million to build a half-mile structure in New Mexico, then he reached a deal to buy a 45-acre strip of riverfront land near McAllen, on which he would build a second WBTW-funded structure closer to the Rio Grande than any existing federal barrier.
Fisher received an initial WBTW payment of $1.5 million before the group began to get sidetracked. Another payment never came, and Fisher started funding the project with company money. The price tag reached $30 million.
Fisher was not implicated in August 2020 with Bannon, Kolfage, and two other WBTW figures for allegedly enriching themselves with money. However, the builder was sued by the National Butterfly Center, which argued his wall could end up diverting water and debris onto its land in the event of a flood, and by the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which argued diverted water could end up displacing the U.S.-Mexico borderline.
The Washington Post reported Trump and adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had begun urging the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to give wall contracts to Fisher.
Fisher Sand & Gravel, which previously built structures such as dams and freeways, was awarded $2.5 billion to build 135 miles’ worth of federal wall sections near Yuma and Nogales in Arizona, and El Paso and Laredo in Texas during the last year of Trump’s term.
After President Joe Biden took office, however, it was unlikely the government would buy an unsanctioned border wall associated with WBTW. Biden also stopped funding Trump’s wall.
By January 2021, Trump’s administration had erected 452 miles of wall, 372 of which replaced or renovated existing structures. Of the 110 miles Trump pledged to build in the Rio Grande Valley, he managed only 17, according to Bloomberg.
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