President Donald Trump’s supporters are hoping to give him a very special Christmas gift: At least $1 billion in donations to kick off construction of his border wall, since the self-proclaimed master dealmaker hasn't been able to secure funding for his pet project.
Earlier this week, veteran Brian Kolfage launched a GoFundMe campaign with the hopes of inspiring his fellow Trump voters "to help out and pitch in to get this project rolling" because the man at the helm of a party that controls the White House and Congress, at least until January, hasn't been able to seal the deal. As of this writing, around 73,000 people have contributed nearly $4.5 million.
The campaign has raised about $1.3 million per day. At this pace, it would take around 769 days, or a little over two years, to raise the $1 billion total. By that time, Trump may no longer even be in office.
Building the wall, perhaps Trump’s main campaign promise, has been more of a pipe dream than actual accomplishment for the Republican administration in the nearly two years since he was sworn-in. The wall's estimated costs have varied wildly, but most estimations put them somewhere between $12 billion and $20 billion. An outlier was a staff report written for the Senate Democrats, which said the final price tag of the project could be up to $70 billion.
The president has never been successful at securing federal funding for it. Just this week, Congress completely ignored his wishes to set aside $5 billion for the wall and instead passed a short-term spending bill that made no mention of it. For a hot second, Trump bluffed that he was willing to shut down the government over the wall. And of course, the idea that Mexico would pay for it has been preposterous since the beginning. The United States' southern neighbor has never agreed to giving Trump the precious funds to fulfill his campaign promise.
One of the main reasons why most Americans believe building the wall is not a priority at all is because it would not really deter unauthorized immigrants, according to everyone from policy experts to Border Patrol agents and even former smugglers. But that hasn't stopped Kolfage and a group of true Trump believers from pitching in everything from $5 to $5,000. If you're wondering if this is all legal, it turns out it is. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, you can make "unconditional gifts" to the United States — even the Statue of Liberty was crowdfunded!
One could arguably say there are more pressing issues that the government hasn't been able to fix, cases in which private donations could come in handy. Flint, MI has yet to replace all of the lead pipes in the city and residents are still advised against drinking tap water, so crowdfunding campaigns would go a long way. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, which 130,000 people left in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, still needs help to rebuild. There are nearly 565,000 Americans who are homeless and solving that crisis permanently would cost around $20 billion.
"This won’t be easy," Kolfage of raising $1 billion for the border wall, "but it’s our duty as citizens." Somehow funding a project with a racist and xenophobic foundation that will unlikely fulfill its goal of deterring immigrants doesn't seem like a citizen's duty, but the heart wants what it wants.