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Gov. Abbott Wants To Crowdfund His Border Wall, Something That Didn’t End Well For Trump

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott
Gage Skidmore
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he will solicit donations for the state to continue building the border wall that former President Trump made a central issue of his presidency.

Abbott first announced plans to continue building Trump’s wall at a border security summit in Del Rio last week. He did not provide details about when and where the wall would be constructed, or how it would be funded. Critics of Abbott’s plan were quick to point out that Texas has neither the legal jurisdiction nor the funds for the project.

But on the latest ‘Ruthless’ podcast released on Tuesday, Abbott revealed at least one source of funding he’s betting on: a crowdfunding campaign.

“I will also be providing a link for everybody in the United States or everybody in the entire world who wants to help Texas build a border wall,” he said. “There will be a place there where they can contribute to Texas building the border wall.”

On Wednesday, the governor announced that the state is funding a $250 million "down payment" to help pay for a Texas border wall as an online donation page for the crowd fund was made public. Abbott also said he’s sending a letter to President Biden as part of his plan.

“I am demanding that the Biden Administration immediately return to Texans land that the federal government took to build the wall. Texas will talk to those property owners about Texas using that land to build the wall.”

Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar said on a press call the same day that it would be a major challenge for the state to build on any land without waiving federal environmental regulations.

"President Trump waived the environmental laws [to build the border wall]. President Biden is not going to wave those laws and that's going to hold up the process for a long, long time."

This will not be the first time that funds have been raised through donations for construction of the border wall. In 2018, then-Trump White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon led a similar campaign that raised $25 million from private donors. The project ended in arrests and indictments. The Department Of Justice found Bannon and other operators were funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to themselves from the fund.

Abbott said on the podcast that his border wall fund will be overseen directly by the governor’s office.

Critics of ‘civic crowdfunding’ have spoken out against the fundraising method for creating less equitable outcomes for public projects, as policy is ‘endorsed’ by cash in place of public discourse.

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Pablo De La Rosa is a freelance journalist reporting statewide with Texas Public Radio and nationally with NPR from the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, from where he originates. He’s the host of the daily Spanish-language newscast TPR Noticias Al Día.