Claims about protecting the United States from illegal immigrants sneaking across the southern border are nothing more than cover for big-dollar contracts and shoddy work. Chants of “Build that wall” should be recast as “Grab that cash.”
Tommy Fisher, CEO of North Dakota highway building company Fisher Sand & Gravel, touted private contractors as a quicker and better way to build President Trump’s “big beautiful wall.”
Fisher appeared frequently on Fox News. He donated at least $24,000 to Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. Cramer joined Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in advocating for his company to be added to a list of preferred bidders on the project, according to ProPublica.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Army Corps of Engineers rejected Fisher’s prototype. He sued and convinced a judge that the government’s regulations and oversight were unnecessary.
Fisher built a 3-mile-long private fence on the banks of the Rio Grande. Only months later, the sandy soil and the movement of the river are causing Fisher’s fence to show significant signs of erosion. A civil engineer from the University of Texas El Paso believes it is likely to collapse into the river itself.
Nevertheless, on the claimed merits of his Rio Grande project and connections to the Trumps, Fisher did win a $400 million federal contract in December 2019 to build another steel wall, this time through Organ Pipe National Monument.
Construction of that wall segment is ripping up saguaro cactuses that are hundreds of years old and blasting through Tohono O’odham ancestral sites. The Tohono O’odham tribal chairman described the impact to Business Insider as “no different than the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] building a 30-foot wall through Arlington Cemetery.”
Trading on influence, ignoring regulations and engineering and ginning up heinous attacks on any local officials who oppose the way these projects are done are the current hallmarks of border wall projects. So is shoddy work that costs millions in taxes.
No matter how anyone feels about the danger that illegal border crossings may pose or the efficacy of a physical barrier to reduce that danger, such projects seem less about construction and more about lining the pockets of people who can sell themselves to the Trump administration and make off with millions in return.
None of it is about illegal immigration or effective barriers. For the environment, national security and the American people, the projects are bad deals.