UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2019: As a result of a lawsuit filed Dec. 5 by the President Donald Trump's administration, a U.S. District judge in Texas has issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against private border wall group We Build the Wall and its contractor, Fisher Industries and Fisher Sand and Gravel.
The order prohibits the private entity from building its planned 3.5-mile border wall, pouring concrete, installing any permanent structure within the flood plain of the Rio Grande River or shaving or cutting along the river bank until the U.S. International Boundary Water Commission reviews construction plans and determines that the project will not “create unacceptable deflection or obstruction of the floodplain.”
The group, according to the case docket, is still permitted to clear and grub, trench, place rebar and conduit in the trench and seed and plant on the property.
- Private organization We Build the Wall has started construction on a new stretch of U.S.-Mexico border wall south of Mission, Texas, according to the group and a CNN report.
- A video posted by We Build the Wall refers to this latest barrier as "Project 2," and an individual in the video said the land on which the wall will be built belongs to Tommy Fisher, president and CEO of contractor Fisher Industries. The wall, according to the video, will be built along a 150-foot easement adjacent to the Rio Grande River. Crews have already cleared a two-mile path through existing sugar cane fields and have recently completed clearing another 2,800 feet.
- The U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), WITI FOX6 Milwaukee reported, has sent Fisher a cease and desist letter, asking that they stop construction until the commission has had time to review the project and make sure that it does not violate a 1970 U.S-Mexico water treaty by interfering with the flow of water at the border.
The wall, according to CNN, will include a roadway and a slope for boats. The project should be completed by Christmas.
Brian Kolfage, founder of We Build the Wall, told WITI that his group has sent information to the USIBWC so that it can evaluate how the border wall construction plan might impact the treaty, but a USIBWC official said that it has received nothing yet that can help with its review.
This is not the first USIBWC run-in that We Build the Wall has had this year. In May, Sunland Park, New Mexico, officials issued the group a cease and desist letter because of a deficient permit application and because the fence, at 18 feet tall, exceeded the maximum height limit of 6 feet.
The majority of that wall was built over the long Memorial Day weekend, but, after it was completed, the USIBWC locked the wall's gate into an open position because the commission said it was on federal land and blocked access to a levee road that IBWC workers use to access a local dam.
Eventually, the wall organization and the USIBWC agreed that the gate would stay locked only at night.
So far, We Build the Wall has raised more than $25 million for the construction of its own border wall segments. The group has not released a cost estimation for the section of wall construction underway in Texas, but the one-mile to one-and-a-half-mile New Mexico barrier reportedly cost between $6 million and $8 million.
Contractor Fisher, in the past, has offered to build 234 miles of border wall for $1.4 billion. When adding in paved roads and security systems, that price would increase to $4.3 billion, an average of $18.4 million a mile. In September, BFBC LLC, an affiliate of Montana-based Barnard Construction Co., was awarded a wall contract – $141.7 million for 5 miles, an average of $28.2 million per mile. The comparison might not be apples-to-apples, depending on the associated infrastructure included in each contract.