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Crowdfunding campaign would build ‘giant escalators’ to defeat Trump border wall

December 21, 2018

Congress isn’t the only place battling over border wall money this week.

GoFundMe, the crowdfunding website, has also turned into a major battleground with the president’s supporters asking average Americans to pony up and some enterprising opponents seeking ways to foil whatever wall emerges.

Luke O’Neil started a page Thursday to, in his words, “build a giant escalator over the wall.”

“The wall is never going to be built but just in case it is we will build a series of giant escalators that are spaced out a half mile along the wall on either side and if that doesn’t happen we’ll just give the money to people who care about the well being of human beings no matter where they’re from,” Mr. O’Neil said in explaining his campaign.

He also was quick to note that the escalator was “a metaphor,” and he pleaded with authorities not to investigate him for aiding illegal immigrants.

His effort came just days after a wounded American veteran, Brian Kolfage, started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $1 billion he says will go to the wall.

He’s a long way from that target, but he’s made a serious start, with nearly 200,000 people pledging nearly $12 million as of Friday morning.

One anonymous donor pledged $50,000 Thursday night, but the vast majority are low-dollar contributions.

Mr. Kolfage says he’s been in contact with the administration to figure out how to turn the money over.

His effort has been featured on Fox News, helping earn eyeballs and, presumably, more cash for the endeavor.

It’s also sparked the reply campaigns like Mr. O’Neil’s escalators or another effort to fund ladders to climb the wall.

The ladder campaign said it was hoping to tap what it called “the coalition of reasonable adults” to show their opposition to the border wall. They, like Mr. O’Neill, said if no wall is built, they will donate their cash to immigrant-rights advocacy groups.

Mr. O’Neill told The Washington Times he didn’t think anyone would send money, but once they did, he figured it could be put to good use by donating to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

“Usually it’s impossible to parody the delusions of the Trumpist cult but something about the idea of thousands of MAGA nanas with terminal Facebook brain wasting the last of their Christmas gift money and red faced dads taking out a second mortgage on their hot tub dealerships to own the libsand support Mr. Trump’s imaginary racism wall seemed too good to pass up,” Mr. O’Neill told The Washington Times in an email. “It’s the perfect encapsulation of the intersection of loneliness and cruelty that binds all these weirdos together.”

Those on the immigrant-rights side of the issue had previously had some success using crowdfunding to help pay application fees for illegal immigrant “Dreamers” seeking to claim protection under the Obama-era DACA program, or to raise money for legal fees to fight deportation.

But until now, the pro-Trump side has been struggling online.

A number of build-the-wall campaigns had popped up on GoFundMe over the years, with little success.

One of the more successful ones had been started in August by Steve Sprague and had raised less than $1,000 as of this week.

Mr. Sprague told The Washington Times earlier this year that he had investigated and found out that private citizens can gift money to the government. They can’t earmark it for a specific project, but they can direct it to a department, he said.

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