- The builder of a privately funded U.S.-Mexico border wall segment in Texas has agreed to an inspection of the 3.5-mile structure, which experts say is showing signs of erosion.
- Built by North Dakota-based contractor Fisher Industries and finished just months ago, the $42 million wall is in danger of falling into the adjacent Rio Grande River, according to ProPublica.
- Last week, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane ordered attorneys in the case to work out details of the inspection and come to an agreement about how to fix it. Crane is overseeing a lawsuit brought by the federal government and the neighboring National Butterfly Center over the construction of the fence and its potential threat to the Rio Grande. The structure also violates a treaty with Mexico because it deflects too much water during floods, the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) alleges in the suit.
Crane has delayed a status conference in the butterfly center’s action against We Build the Wall (WBTW), Fisher Sand and Gravel, Fisher Industries and others until an official inspection takes place. IBWC engineers have identified four areas of erosion that need to be fixed, according to the lawsuit.
Earlier this year in an interview with Texas Monthly, Tommy Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher and owner of the land on which the private wall was built, reportedly referred to the bollard fence as a "Lamborghini" compared to the government's "horse and carriage" versions. Fisher said the wall segment, which is 35 feet from the river's edge, can withstand flooding and erosion.
I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads. It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles. https://t.co/L8RUPCAhqc— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2020
President Donald Trump weighed in via Twitter on the question of the privately funded wall's quality.
"I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads," the president wrote. "It was only done to make me look bad, and perhaps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles."
In response to the president's remarks about the wall Fisher built, Brian Kolfage, head of WBTW, tweeted that Trump wasn't referring to his organization but to Fisher. He also tweeted WBTW "funded that project but it wasn't ours by any means. We had no say in any of it. We just help fund." WBTW and Kolfage have referred to the wall as "Project 2."
As for Fisher, the contractor won a $1.3 billion wall contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May. A $400 million contract the firm won at the end of last year, which critics of the president's wall plans said was subject to "inappropriate influence," is under investigation by the Inspector General.
Construction of the wall has hit a roadblock in California as well, where protests by a Native American tribe have slowed work, according to KXAN News.
Demonstrations by members of the Kumeyaay Nation have held up demolition in preparation for construction of a San Diego-area wall portion. The protestors maintain that construction will disturb tribal artifacts and remains, an allegation that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers dispute.