It’s not a matter of if a privately built border fence along the shores of the Rio Grande will fail, it’s a matter of when, according to a new engineering report on the troubled project.
The report is one of two new studies set to be filed in federal court this week that found numerous deficiencies in the 3-mile border fence, built this year by North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel. The reports confirm earlier reporting from ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, which found that segments of the structure were in danger of overturning due to extensive erosion if not fixed and properly maintained. Fisher dismissed the concerns as normal post-construction issues.
Donations that paid for part of the border fence are at the heart of an indictment against members of the We Build the Wall nonprofit, which raised more than $25 million to help President Donald Trump build a border wall.
Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage and two others connected to the organization are accused of siphoning donor money to pay off personal debt and fund lavish lifestyles. All four, who face up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts they face, have pleaded not guilty, and Bannon has called the charges a plot to stop border wall construction.
We Build the Wall, whose executive board is made up of influential immigration hard-liners like Bannon, Kris Kobach and Tom Tancredo, contributed $1.5 million of the cost of the $42 million private border fence project south of Mission, Texas.
Last year, the nonprofit also hired Fisher to build a half-mile fence segment in Sunland Park, New Mexico, outside El Paso.
Company president Tommy Fisher, a frequent guest on Fox News, had called the Rio Grande fence the “Lamborghini” of border walls and bragged that his company’s methods could help Trump reach his Election Day goal of about 500 new miles of barriers along the southern border.
Instead, one engineer who reviewed the two reports on behalf of ProPublica and The Texas Tribune likened Fisher’s fence to a used Toyota Yaris.