Embracing the online ‘crowdsourcing’ trend pioneered by inventors and entrepreneurs to raise vast sums of money, support and sometimes, fame, Representative Diane Black (R-TN-06) introduced a novel bill late last week that would create a trust fund in the U.S. Treasury that could accept money donated by individuals and earmark the funds to cover the costs associated with one of the flagship campaign promises by then-candidate Trump: the construction of a border wall along the southern border.
“While Democrats block commonsense border security and put illegal immigrants before our families, we are going to put America first,” Rep. Black said in a statement accompanying the proposal.
Real immigration reform cannot be achieved without a secure border – President Trump has been clear about this since day one. The most important job of the federal government is the safety and security of the American people, and if citizens in our country wish to contribute to this effort, they absolutely should be given the opportunity. Americans know that President Trump is committed to protecting our nation for future generations, and we are ready to stand with him to build the wall.
“The Border Wall Trust Fund Act” is a four-page bill, H.R. 5876 that enjoys the support of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA.
The straightforward proposal outlines a GoFundMe-type of online crowdsourcing website where people could donate money received as gifts by the US Treasury. The funds, according to the bill, could only be used to pay “to plan, design, construct, or maintain a barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico. Such funds may not be used for any other purpose.”
Additionally, the bill describes a “commemorative display” element – measuring roughly one mile in length – would be integrated into the layout and construction of the wall to recognize individuals for their contributions to The Border Wall Trust Fund.
“I support President Trump in building the wall. It’s going to take big funds to do that,” Black said in a recent interview with FOX News. She went on to note that her congressional colleagues seem to be unwilling or unable to raise or appropriate the financial resources for the very popular – if controversial – infrastructure project.
However, Black noted that the idea to ‘crowdsource’ a public monument is not unprecedented. In 1833, a private group raised money that was eventually used to construct the Washington Monument.
The Statue of Liberty is another famously crowdsourced project, both in France and in the United States.
After $50,000 in funding for the statue’s base was vetoed by New York’s Governor Grover Cleveland in 1884, followed by a failure in 1885 to pass a bill in Congress that would provide $100,000 in funding – newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer vowed he would raise the money with the help of his readers adding that he would print the name of every contributor, no matter the amount.
Pulitzer made good on his promise and the response from readers became overwhelming. In a mere five months, Pulitzer’s Pedestal Fund raised $101,091 from 160,000 donors.