EL PASO, Texas – With or without marshmallows?
A 7-year-old boy from Austin has raised $22,000 through GoFundMe for a border wall by selling hot chocolate, according to We Built the Wall’s Facebook page.
Benton Stevens sold the cups of hot chocolate for $2 each, according to ABC13 Houston. For an extra 50 cents, he offered large “Nancy Pelosi” marshmallows to melt. Smaller “Beto O’Rourke” marshmallows were also offered at no extra charge.
We Build the Wall invited the boy to a news conference on Thursday to officially unveil the “first ever privately built border wall on US-Mexico border.”
In an ABC13 Houston video from February, Benton said he’s been called a “little Hitler.” Benton also mentioned he got the idea for the the stand from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.
His parents said reactions have been mixed, but they are proud of their son. It also appears the negative comments are not stopping him.
According to his website, due to attacks, “Benton’s Stand” has turned into much more than selling hot chocolate for the wall. Reasons to donate are if you believe:
- Adults should not cyber bully, verbally bully or make physical threats of violence against kids
- In Mercy, Compassion, Tolerance and Acceptance towards all people
- People from all political stances should speak kindly to one another
- We should judge ourselves before we judge others
- Wanting to know who comes into America and protecting our borders does not mean you are racist
- Children should be able to support our President without fear of retaliation
- In general, support American entrepreneurism and courage
Why Benton Stevens is fundraising for a wall
According to his website:
What 7-year-old begs to watch The State of the Union Address after being told its time for bed? Well, that would be our entrepreneurial, passionate, 7-year-old little boy!!! Benton watched President Trump discuss border security, building the wall and protecting our nation and he immediately decided “I want to help President Trump build the wall!” A few days later he started making signs and preparing his Hot Chocolate Stand!
In the span of 2 days, after many positive and a few negative remarks plus a social media frenzy in our neighborhood, he earned a total of $1400 cash in 3 hours. Local news picked up the story and then it appeared on National news. Benton received an outcry of support from Hannity, Shannon Bream, ABC, Members of Congress, Donald Trump Jr. and many more across the nation.
‘We Build the Wall’ took action
The privately funded border wall is more than 20 feet tall and goes up a 300-foot incline over mountainous terrain. It also extends 7 feet into the ground. It was paid for by the We Build the Wall organization on land owned by American Eagle Brick Company.
Jeff Allen, the company’s co-owner, confirmed that the wall was being built on his property.
“Why wouldn’t we allow it?” Allen asked. “We have dealt with illegals coming across. We have been attacked by illegals coming across. We have been burglarized by illegals. We have drug traffickers coming through here and anyone who is against this is against America.”
Kris Kobach, the former Secretary of State of Kansas who is known for his hard-line immigration stances, announced that the wall was nearly complete on Memorial Day, calling it a gift to America.
‘Why wouldn’t we allow it?’: Land owner asks of privately funded border wall built at El Paso
Kobach is general counsel for We Build the Wall. He has been mentioned as a possible pick by Trump to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
“It was important to us to make the announcement today, on Memorial Day,” Kobach told the El Paso Times during a tour of the site. “This wall is all about securing our border and our nation, so it is fitting, and we worked hard to get it built this holiday weekend. This is us trying to give America a present for Memorial Day.”
How the GoFundMe border wall got started
The “We Build The Wall” project was started by a U.S. war veteran, Brian Kolfage, and is being led by a group that includes Kobach and former White House strategist Steve Bannon.
The GoFundMe page calls the project “Trump approved.” As of Monday afternoon, it had raised more than $22 million of its $1 billion goal.
The section of the wall being built in the El Paso area will cost between $6 million and $8 million, Kobach said.
Construction stops: Private border wall not in compliance, construction stops now says Sunland Park mayor
The wall spans an area of about a half-mile near Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico, that was not covered by existing government fencing — a decision that was made at least partially because of the rough terrain.
Kobach said Border Patrol agents in the area have told him that hundreds of immigrants have crossed there illegally and more than $100,000 worth of drugs has been smuggled through the gap.
Cease and desist lifted, wall will be done soon, group says
Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea claimed that the wall was built illegally after the property owners did obtain the necessary permits to erect the fencing.
Sunland Park city officials sent the property owners and the group a cease and desist letter to halt the construction. Construction stopped Tuesday, but quickly began again Thursday after the group got the go-ahead from the city.
“We actually applied for permits last week and we were told we were set and ready to go,” Kobach said.
Construction resumes: With the cease and desist lifted, privately funded border wall will be completed soon
He added, “A statement from someone (from the city on Tuesday) when the stop work order was issued that they thought the project was not in compliance with the city’s ordinances, that statement was incorrect. The city now agrees with us that there is no violation of any ordinance.”
Perea, however, maintains that American Eagle Brick Co., which owns the property where the wall is being constructed, was out of compliance by not having building permits at the time of construction.
“If they had done their due diligence ahead of time it would have given the staff enough time to address the concerns in an appropriate manner,” Perea said. “We will continue to ensure that they are meeting all city ordinances for the time being.”
He added the company may still be fined for initial non-compliance.
The stop work order was lifted by Sunland Park city officials at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Kobach said, and construction resumed Thursday morning.
The wall, which is about a half-mile long, is now expected to be completed within the next two days, Kobach said.
Follow Aaron Bedoya on Twitter: @abedoya89