RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
There is a new section of border wall under construction in Sunland Park, N.M. Now, this isn't President Trump's wall. This is the first crowdfunded border barrier built with private donations on private land. The team behind the wall showed it off for reporters yesterday, and Mallory Falk, with member station KRWG, was there.
MALLORY FALK, BYLINE: A cement mixer pours concrete onto the ground near a newly built barrier at the corner where New Mexico, Texas and Mexico meet. Construction workers in bright green and orange T-shirts stand at the ready with shovels to smooth the new concrete into a road for Border Patrol vehicles.
BRIAN KOLFAGE: This is a project that was started by the American people who all believed in border security and who believe there is a crisis down here.
FALK: Brian Kolfage looks out over the construction site. All this was his brainchild. He founded a nonprofit called We Build The Wall and hired a construction company, Fisher Industries, to start building on private land.
TOMMY FISHER: Fifteen hundred people from the Fisher Industries team stood up and was so proud and honored for We Build The Wall to give us a shot to do this.
FALK: Tommy Fisher is president. He's pitching his company as the best contractor for other sections of the wall on private or government land.
FISHER: We have the ability to build in the multibillions and build miles and miles and miles.
FALK: And he's not the only one who sees this as just the beginning. Another is Kris Kobach, former secretary of state of Kansas and now legal counsel for We Build The Wall. He says the group's already identified 10 other potential sites.
KRIS KOBACH: We've kept the locations a secret. And then once we start building, of course, we announce, here we are.
FALK: Customs and Border Protection says they're not a partner on this project and that this stretch of land in New Mexico isn't a high-priority site. But Kobach claims his group's been in close communication with officials. And once construction is done, in his words, they'll hand over the keys to the car.
KOBACH: I know for a fact that they are very eager to take control of this site and use it.
FALK: We Build The Wall may have been in communication with Border Patrol. But when it comes to local government, that's a different story. Javier Perea is mayor of Sunland Park. The city learned just last week that this wall project was in the works. He says construction started before all the permits were in order.
JAVIER PEREA: This is an issue that was railroaded into the city of Sunland Park. And, you know, it takes time for us to review documents and ensure that everything's been in compliance.
FALK: Sunland Park is small, less than 20,000 people, and has limited resources. The mayor says the city was already struggling to deal with permitting issues. And then when he ordered a temporary pause on construction, he and his staff were flooded with calls from wall supporters. And his family even received death threats. Perea worries that other small border communities could also be blindsided. And he says...
PEREA: The construction of this border wall, I do not believe it's going to accomplish what many people think it will. And what it will accomplish is that maybe it'll funnel some people to different areas in the desert.
FALK: He says a half-mile of private wall is not the solution to the border crisis.
For NPR News, I'm Mallory Falk in Sunland Park.
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