GoFundMe border wall campaign raising millions, rival 'ladders' effort trending

A pro-wall fund has raised more than $7 million in three days. Meanwhile, an effort to raise money for immigrants is picking up steam.

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2 min read

The issue of a wall along the US-Mexico border has spawned opposing GoFundMe campaigns. 

Herika Martinez/Getty Images

A GoFundMe campaign is aiming to raise at least $1 billion to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, an effort that's made it one of the site's hottest pages. It's also sparked an opposing campaign that's trending as well.

The pro-wall campaign, called "We the People Will Fund the Wall," was launched by Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who lost three limbs in Iraq. At the time of publication, it had raised more than $7 million in three days. The total appeared likely to rise quickly. 

"As a veteran who has given so much, 3 limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today," Kolfage wrote on the GoFundMe page. The effort could raise $5 billion if each of the 63 million people who voted for President Donald Trump pledged $80, he said.

Trump made building a border wall a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign, saying he would have Mexico pay for it. Mexico's government has said it won't fund construction of a wall. 

It's unclear whether the government would be able to accept the funds, but Kolfage says on the fundraiser page that "the government has accepted large private donations before," pointing to a billionaire's donation of $7.5 million to fund repairs of the Washington Monument. 

The "We the People Will Fund the Wall" effort is already among the most successful GoFundMe campaigns of the year. These include the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which connects victims of workplace sexual harassment with legal assistance and has raised more than $22 million, and March for Our Lives, which helped fund a Washington, DC, rally to end gun violence and raised more than $3.5 million. 

Kolfage and GoFundMe didn't respond to requests for comment. 

Pushing back with 'ladders'

In response to Kolfage's campaign, veteran Charlotte Clymer started on Wednesday a GoFundMe called "Ladders to Get Over Trump's Wall." It's raised more than $30,000 toward its $100 million goal in its first 18 hours online. The performance has earned it a "trending" label from GoFundMe. 

Clymer told CNET she doesn't like it when military service is used to target vulnerable communities. "Those aren't the values the Army taught me," she said.

The funds from Clymer's campaign will go to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants and refugees.  

"This GoFundMe isn't really about ladders at all," Clymer wrote on the GoFundMe page. "It's about lifting people up."

First published Dec. 20 at 1:18 p.m. PT.
Updates, 2:16 p.m.: Adds information on "Ladders" campaign; 3:13 p.m.: Reworks story in light of "Ladders" effort; 4:47 p.m.: Adds quote from Clymer.

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