On a day when the U.S. House of Representatives approved a stop-gap measure that included $5.7 billion for a wall along the Mexican border, two very different campaigns were operating on GoFundMe — one to fund the wall, and one to surmount it.
The first campaign, “We the People Will Fund the Wall,” aimed to raise $1 billion to pay for the structure that’s aimed at controlling immigration into the U.S. from the south.
Coverage of the U.S.-Mexico border wall on Globalnews.ca:
Created by Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who lost his right hand and both his legs while serving in Iraq, the campaign had managed to raise nearly $11 million toward its goal as of Thursday night.
Kolfage told CNN that he took up the campaign following “inaction from our politicians.”
“I’ve been receiving thousands of emails from citizens who have waited in line to become Americans and completed this process the legal way,” he said.
“They are so thankful for this.”
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On the campaign website, he urged all 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump to contribute $80 each, which equated to about $5 billion.
“Even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page.
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Three days later, the GoFundMe had inspired a second campaign — this one to raise $100 million toward the installation of ladders so that people can climb over the wall, in the event that it’s built.
This one, by Charlotte Clymer, an army veteran and member of the communications team for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), had raised just over $60,000 toward its goal as of Thursday night.
Clymer started the campaign after she saw a tweet that suggested a crowdfund to troll the other one.
“I was really stunned when I heard of the border wall GoFundMe,” Clymer told Business Insider.
“More than being angry, I was sad at the blatant racism of donating money to a wall that will not be built, a wall that won’t work.”
Clymer’s campaign has no plans to actually erect ladders over any prospective border wall.
Any funds raised will be donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the GoFundMe page said.
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Trump promised a border wall to curb immigration during his presidential campaign, and has continued to push for it ever since.
Many experts have criticized the idea, however, and data has suggested that the situation at the border isn’t as serious as it has been in the past.
The U.S. saw fewer border apprehensions in 2017 than it did in a decade (310,531), and that was down from a high of 870,000 in 2007.
The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. has also declined over the past decade, going from 12.2 million in 2007 to 10.7 million in 2016.
Nevertheless, the campaign to raise funds for a border wall persists — on GoFundMe, and at the White House.
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The House of Representatives, currently dominated by Republicans, approved a measure Thursday to provide billions for the wall and avoid a government shutdown.
That measure is not expected to pass in the Senate, which on Wednesday passed a separate measure to keep the government funded through to February, without money for the wall.
Trump said he wouldn’t sign it.
Kolfage was previously tied to a number of sites that promoted conspiracy theories, NBC News reported.
One of them was a Facebook page known as Right Wing News, which was later removed by the social media giant after it was included among a number of sites that had used fake accounts to drive traffic, the report added.
Kolfage also ran sites such as FreedomDaily and VeteranAF, which were linked to Right Wing News.
FreedomDaily was sued alongside other right-wing sites after it identified a man named Joel Vangheluwe as the one who drove a car through a group of protesters at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017.
The driver was actually James Alex Fields Jr., and he was convicted of first-degree murder earlier this month for killing a woman after he drove into the rally.
Kolfage wasn’t listed as a defendant in that lawsuit.