The We Build the Wall team held a news conference in Sunland Park, New Mexico Thursday afternoon to explain the details behind the resumption of work on the one mile section of wall that will connect the 20 mile border wall that stretches across El Paso, Texas and another 20 mile segment that stretches from the western edge of Sunland Park into the New Mexico desert.
Here’s a complete transcript of the comments of Brian Kolfage, founder of We Build the Wall, at that news conference:
First of all, thank you all for coming out today and witnessing this project. This is a project that was started by the American people who all believed in border security and who believed there is a crisis down here. A lot of people ask about how did we get here today? How did we find this land over here? How did we identify this exact spot where we’re building? Over the last 57 days is when we started this project. From the time I set foot here, I actually rolled across into Mexico and rolled back in my wheelchair. And at that point, I knew this was a bad area.
And we sat down with the landowner and he explained his struggle of living here and working here over the last many many many years of having to live in fear. He has to carry a gun around loaded with rounds in the chamber 24/7. He told me a story of when he went to Home Depot last year. Bought a brand new BBQ put it out on his property on the other side of this hill and within four hours it was stolen.
We started looking deeper into the problems that going on around here. At that same time you guys probably all saw the videos popping up on Facebook from the members who were on the other side of this hill, posting of all the migrants coming across, the drug smugglers. At that time we knew that this was going to be a spot for We Build the Wall. We knew that we were going to have to build here. That’s our mission. We wanted to have the largest impact.
We had a lot of property owners and we mapped out every single property owner on the southern border. And we’ve been networking on the border going state to state. Property owner to property owner figuring out who we could have an impact with and who had issues. In the current pipeline right now we about have ten properties where we can do this at. Ten that are ready to go. We have many more, maybe hundreds of property owners we have yet to make contact with. Fifty-seven days ago when I was on this property I didn’t think we’d get this done this fast.
We started interviewing contractors. One of the first ones that popped up was Tommy Fisher and Fisher Industries. I saw what they did. We immediately sent Kris out to Arizona to inspect what they were doing. It became very clear to us that this company, Fisher Industries knew what they were doing and they had the power and determination to get the job. They were very similar to what we were doing. They were motivated and very eager. Tommy immediately said he could do this in a couple of days. And we’re like, “Can you really do this in a couple of days? There’s a lot on the line.” And you know Tommy basically explained his process and we got a bid from Tommy. He did an excellent job putting together all the paperwork together and everything for us to move forward.
We informed the United States government of exactly what we were doing. The President was briefed on what we were doing. The Department of Homeland Security was briefed on what we were doing. The IBWC was one hundred percent briefed last week on what we were doing. They were called here in El Paso. Everyone knew what was going on regardless of what you might here in the media. Probably not going to hear this because it is a controversial subject.
Last week when we came down here, Tommy started getting the equipment in place and ready to go. And we wanted to keep this quiet because we have had death threats against our team members. And we take these death threats seriously. This is one of the most important things and we couldn’t risk having an international incident down here. And the media was really hitting us hard because they were like, “What’s going on? We haven’t heard anything from you guys.”
There was a lot of misinformation out there about fake news that we’re misappropriating funds and stuff like that. It’s one hundred percent not true. As you can see behind me we just built this wall with these funds. So that is why we kept this whole project a secret. We weren’t going to risk someone’s life down here dealing with the cartels. (Inaudible talk) is one of the most ruthless cartels. And you know I’ve faced a lot of trauma in my life. I’ve faced a lot of people like them in Iraq and I wasn’t going to risk anyone’s life. We kept it quiet. Tommy came down here and we started getting this thing prepped out.
On Friday the city came down here and everything was ready to go and we started building. As you can see this thing moved fast. Tommy and his team was working non-stop day and night to put up these walls as you can see right here. And they did an incredible job. Tommy where you at? Come out here. I want to thank you for your hard work and dedication. (Applause) You’re part of our team. Initially, you were the sub-contractor guy. You know what the heck you’re doing. And you know it’s people like you who ultimately change this country and make it a better place. We didn’t want someone who was just down here just looking to get rich. Tommy’s down here because loves his country. He believes in the mission and he ultimately wants to make it a better place and make these communities a better place. We don’t want these drugs coming into our communities.
We have the Angel Parent Steve Ronenback and Gary Mendoza and they’re on our board. When I started this project they approached me and we started talking, how can you look someone in the eyes who just lost their family member who shouldn’t have even been killed to begin with. They were killed at the hands of someone who was here illegally. And I have young children and that touched my heart deeply. And that just gave me the motivation and gave our team the motivation to see this project through.
And it’s the stories of the American people that really drive this. It’s the stories of the American people who donated for this. They were donating with their money. They didn’t have to donate. They pay taxes. But they were willing to take that extra step to give us money to put up the border wall to protect our communities. And that’s what this projects about. And Tommy, you did an amazing job. Thanks for everything you do. (Applause)
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Photo “Brian Kolfage” by KFOX 14.