Last year, at a cost of $30 million, Tommy Fisher finished building a private 3-mile wall at the US-Mexico border in Texas. Now the 51-year-old is searching for someone to buy it, Bloomberg reported.
It’s looking to be a tough sell, especially since President Joe Biden has rolled back construction on his predecessor’s wall (though Biden’s chief of homeland security did say in April that the administration might try to fill “gaps” in the existing barrier). Just last month, Biden returned $2.2 billion to the military that had been allocated to building a wall under the Trump administration.
According to Bloomberg, Fisher’s wall, which runs along the Rio Grande, consists of “15,000 18-foot-tall steel bollards” spaced 5 inches apart.
Fisher told Bloomberg he started thinking about building the wall as a personal project when Donald Trump got elected in 2016. A Republican donor and frequent Fox News contributor, Fisher told the outlet: “I was like: ‘This would be really fun. This would be a project that would be remembered, like the Hoover Dam.'”
In 2019, We Build the Wall — an organization dedicated to crowdsourcing funds to build a border wall — paid Fisher’s company Fisher Industries $6.9 million to build a half-mile section of wall in New Mexico, Bloomberg reported.
We Build the Wall was founded by Brian Kolfage, a US veteran, and co-led by the former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
In late 2019, Fisher started building a second stretch in Texas after receiving an additional $1.5 million. He later parted ways with the organization, and continued building the second wall; its cost eventually ballooned to $30 million — 20 times the original estimate.
In 2019, Kolfage, Bannon, and two others were indicted on suspicion of defrauding donors of $25 million in connection with the organization, according to court papers seen by Insider. Bannon was given a pretrial pardon by Trump just before he left office. Kolfage later faced additional tax-fraud charges.
Fisher’s work with We Build the Wall helped him score more than $2 billion in contracts from the Trump administration — despite, as The Washington Post reported, portions of his builds being plagued by design problems and poor construction.
In addition to structural issues, Fisher’s project has been the subject of pushback from environmental groups and neighbors who oppose the wall, NPR reported. They said it was built too close to the river and could worsen flooding.
Last year, the National Butterfly Center, a nonprofit conservation organization, sued WBTW and Fisher Industries, saying the wall may disrupt the rivers flow and cause flooding on both sides, per the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the US International Boundary and Water Commission also filed a suit, saying the water diverted from the wall’s construction could shift border lines between US and Mexico.
Fisher Industries did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment for this article.
Despite both lawsuits, Fisher continued to sink money into his wall project, he told Bloomberg, because he believed he was building the “Lamborghini” of walls and someone would buy it.
He’s hoping that as border control remains a problem, the federal government will be moved to take over his private wall.
In May this year, US authorities encountered more than 180,000 migrants at the southwestern border, according to data from the US Customs and Border Protection — the most in 20 years. More than 50,000 people came in through the Rio Grande Valley, where Fisher’s 3-mile wall is.