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US veteran collects US$9.7 million for border wall with crowdfunding page


Former US Air Force senior airman Brian Kolfage, second right, a triple amputee after he lost his limbs in Iraq, sits in a wheelchair next to his wife Ashley, right, who holds their daughter Paris, during the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum’s “Salute to Service” tribute honoring US veterans in New York on Nov. 10, 2014.

Photo: AP

An online fundraiser started by a US Air Force veteran to pay for construction of US President Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall was up to millions of US dollars on Thursday, bringing further attention to an issue that could lead to a government shutdown.

Brian Kolfage launched the GoFundMe page on Sunday and it had generated US$9.7 million in donations as of Thursday evening. The Web page states a fundraising goal of US$1 billion.

In a statement posted on the crowdsourcing page, Kolfage said that the wall could be built if everyone who voted for Trump pledged US$80 each.

“As a veteran who has given so much, three limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today,” Kolfage wrote.

A triple amputee injured in the Iraq War in 2004, Kolfage said that he has contacted the Trump administration about where to send the money once the fundraiser ends.

Trump on Thursday announced that he would not sign a bill to keep funding the government because it fails to provide billions of US dollars for his border wall.

It was his second reversal in a matter of days, after conservative allies and pundits accused him of backing down on a central campaign promise.

Kolfage, who was listed on GoFundMe as being based in Miramar Beach, Florida, said in an e-mail that he was not immediately available to comment.

The reception toward Kolfage’s fundraising is far from the reaction when Arizona lawmakers similarly tried to raise money for border fencing several years ago.

Legislators approved a bill in 2011 to establish a Web site to raise US$50 million for border fencing. However, the effort flopped, bringing in about US$265,000.

Kolfage’s page inspired at least one opposing fundraising page. A GoFundMe fundraiser was created on Wednesday to raise money for “ladders to get over Trump’s wall.”

The Web page posted a goal of US$100 million and garnered more than US$20,000 in donations as of Thursday afternoon.

All the money is to go toward a nonprofit organization that provides education and legal services to refugees and immigrant families.

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