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Tag: border wall

Steve Bannon, 3 Others Charged with Fraud in We Build the Wall Campaign

Steve Bannon at a fundraiser for “We Build the Wall” in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former President Trump adviser Steve Bannon and three others were charged with defrauding donors to a private fundraising campaign ostensibly intended to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Federal prosecutors say Bannon and Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations on personal expenses after insisting that all the contributions would be used to build a wall.

The fundraiser collected more than $25 million.

On Thursday morning, Bannon was arrested on a 150-foot yacht owned by fugitive Chinese billionaire Gun Wehgui.
Bannon pleaded not guilty and was released on bail.

After leaving the federal courthouse, Bannon said, “This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall,” CNN reports.

Kolfage is accused of using more than $350,000 in donations to pay for a luxury SUV, cosmetic surgery, and jewelry and make payments toward a boat, home renovations, and credit card debt.

Bannon, Kolfage along with Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” Acting Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. “While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle.”

Virtual Surveillance Towers Show Promise As Alternative to Steel, Concrete Border Walls

Construction of a border wall, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steel and concrete border walls get all the media hype, but a new mobile technology may prove to be a far more effective and inexpensive way to combat illegal immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying out telescoping surveillance towers on the Arizona border that can track illegal crossers with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders, NPR reports. Capable of tracking a target miles away, the autonomous surveillance towers can be mounted on a pickup truck and operated remotely.

“The camera sees something, it’s going to alert and send that information to an agent in the field. So my iPhone will have an app on it and that information will come directly to me,” Kelly Good, deputy executive director of CBP’s Program Management Office Directorate, says.

Steel and concrete walls, however, appear to be the Trump administration’s priority.

“We now are in a time where we can build this virtual border wall technology. We have that already. I mean, you got the autonomous surveillance towers,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat from a border district, says. “But there’s political pressure from the White House. They’re saying, ‘Build me the wall. Get me miles.’ “

CBP Awards $289.5M Contract for 17 Miles of Wall Construction in Laredo Sector in Texas

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection has announced a $289.5 million contract to build about 17 miles of contagious new border walls within Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Webb County, Texas.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Company, DBA Fisher Industries, received the contract, CBP said Monday.

With the apprehension of nearly 22,000 undocumented immigrants and the seizure of more than 30,000 pounds of drugs so far this fiscal year, the Laredo Sector is one of the busiest in the U.S.

Most of the illegal activate is occurring in areas where the sector lacks infrastructure, access and technology, CBP says.

The plan is part of President Trump’s aggressive push for new wall construction.

“These projects will improve Laredo Sector’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations,” CBP said.

Coronavirus Fears Don’t Stop Construction of the Border Wall in Arizona

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Construction on the wall on the Arizona border with Mexico has not stopped as the coronavirus outbreak spreads rapidly across the U.S.

Work crews are filling up motels, Airbnbs and mobile home camps in the town of Ajo, while nonessential construction has stopped in most of the country, The New York Times reports.

The theory is that the wall will prevent the spread of the virus from Mexico to the U.S., even though health experts are skeptical.

In the meantime, residents in Ajo are worried that the influx of workers make them more susceptive to the coronavirus.

“This administration’s priority is to get the wall done. The rest of us might as well be damned,” Ajo resident Maria Singleton told the Times.

According to an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Raini Brunson, the agency is following “government and CDC guidelines” as construction increases.

“As the guidance changes, decisions will be made as to how contractor employees will be affected,” Brunson added.

Sen. Bernie Sanders Calls for Dismantling ICE, CBP And Pausing Deportations

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a Detroit rally. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his immigration plans Thursday, calling for a moratorium on deportations and an end to ICE raids and President Trump’s “racist and ineffective” wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The long-anticipated plan, entitled “A Welcoming and Safe America for All,” pushes for a pathway to citizenship and says “Trump has manufactured” a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Sanders also wants to dismantle ICE and CBP and “redistribute their functions to their proper authorities.” To do so, Sanders is calling for the restructuring of the Department of Homeland Security, an agency that the Vermont senator voted against in 2002.

Under the plan, the Justice Department would once again handled deportation, enforcement and border authority. The Treasury Department would take over customs. And the State Department would handle naturalization and citizenship authority.

If elected, Sanders says he will “end the barbaric practice of ripping children from their parents and locking children in cages” on his first day in office.

Sanders also pledges to end Trump’s “racist and disgusting Muslim ban and instruct DOJ to drop any litigation or funding restrictions relating to sanctuary cities.”

Trump Reportedly Pledges to Pardon Aides If They Break Law Building Border Wall

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump pledged to issue pardons to his aides if they violate the law to quickly build his long-promised border wall before the 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post reports.

“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” Trump reportedly told officials when discussing the wall.

Trump’s wall is far behind schedule, and a source told the Post that the president emphasized that “people expected him to build a wall, and it had to be done by the election.”

Trump responded by calling the report “another totally Fake story in the Amazon Washington Post.”

“This was made up by the Washington Post only in order to demean and disparage – FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted.

Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said Trump plans to fulfill his promise to protect Americans with new border barriers.

“Donald Trump promised to secure our border with sane, rational immigration policies to make American communities safer, and that’s happening everywhere the wall is being built,” Gidley said.

Supreme Court Gives Green Light to Use Pentagon Funds for Border Wall Construction

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s administration can use billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to help build a border wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The five-to-four ruling gives the administration permission to begin using $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to move ahead with wall construction. Lower courts delayed the project pending a Supreme Court decision.

Another $3.6 billion comes from military construction funds.

“Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall,” Trump tweeted. “The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!”

Ex-Homeland Security Chief: Trump’s Wall Is a ‘Symbol’ and Waste of Tax Dollars

Michael Chertoff

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called President Trump’s border wall “a symbol” and a waste of tax dollars.

Chertoff, who led the country’s Homeland Security Department from February 2005 to January 2009, told Newsweek that a border wall would “fulfill some sort of visual image” for Trump but would do little to prevent undocumented immigrants from coming to the U.S.

“I think the idea of a wall in and of itself is a symbol. It’s not a real tool,” Chertoff said. “It is not an efficient or effective tool.” 

Chertoff said the better alternative to a wall would be comprehensive reform.

“The right way to do border security is to look at the entire system,” Chertoff said. “And that begins with what is pushing people to leave their countries and come to the U.S. in the first place. In some cases, it’s violence and the rule of law not being in existence.”