Though the crowdfunding campaign had previously only raised about $1 million for the project, the number jumped to almost $19 million by August 27 and then over $54 million by early September. As of Friday, the border wall funding still remains at just over $54 million.
According to a report by the Texas Tribune, the lion’s share of the funding for the wall has come from Wyoming billionaire Timothy Mellon, who contributed millions to former President Trump’s campaign and gave $53.1 million in stock for the Texas wall.
Known for donating tens of millions to mostly GOP candidates and causes, Mellon also reportedly gave $2,500 to Republican Allen West when he was running for Congress in Florida in 2012. West is now running for governor against Abbott.
West is among Abbott’s opponents in the Republican gubernatorial primary who question whether the barrier the governor has in mind will be effective.
Mellon is the chairman of Pan AM Systems Inc., an industrial services company based in New Hampshire. He is the grandson of the late Andrew M. Mellon, who was the United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932. The Mellon family’s fortune totals approximately $11.5 billion, per an estimate by Forbes.
He has been a supporter of strong immigration laws in the past, including Arizona Senate Bill (SB) 1070, which sought to detect illegal immigration and criminalize it at the state level. Mellon contributed $1.5 million to defend the law in court, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
The Texas wall has been a fixture of Abbott’s border security efforts since June, when he set up a venue for public contributions to the project. The Texas Facilities Commission selected a program manager for the border wall project in September.
In terms of the scale of the funding, Mellon’s contribution is dwarfed in comparison to the billions in taxpayer funds that have been set aside for border security this biennium.
During the second called session of the legislature, a bipartisan majority of Texas lawmakers added $1.8 billion in new spending on securing the border, which includes $750 million in spending on the wall and a $250 million reimbursement for a “down payment” on the project this summer.
Near the Rio Grande River in Mission this week, Abbott was flanked by nine other Republican governors in calling on the federal government to do more to deter illegal immigration and secure the border. Amid an ongoing border crisis, private citizens, border agents, and local governments have been left to deal with much of the cost.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."