DARTMOUTH — A sheriffs' crowdfunding campaign to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall has raised at least $14,000 since last week, when Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson announced the effort in Washington D.C. on behalf of the National Sheriffs' Association.
A website for the campaign shows $14,000 raised on a scale of $100,000, but Hodgson said he hopes to get much more. The price tag is in the tens of billions; President Donald Trump asked Congress for $25 billion in January.
Hodgson said the National Sheriffs' Association is trying to mobilize the American people to get involved in government, secure the border and make communities safer. He said sheriffs across the country plan to speak to the media early next week to publicize the crowdfunding site, and that donations will be used only for the wall.
Raising the full cost through private donations is not impossible, he said. The campaign has already received a promise of $10,000 from one donor, and people have been emailing to ask how to donate. The website initially experienced some problems but is now ready to accept donations, he said.
The association could not be reached for comment.
The idea of a more comprehensive wall at the southern U.S. border has been a political hot button since Trump pledged at the launch of his presidential campaign to build it at Mexico's expense.
Hodgson said the wall would help prevent criminals from crossing the border for purposes such as fentanyl trafficking, sex trafficking and identity fraud.
"We've got to stop the flow," he said.
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union Border Rights Center and five other organizations released a joint report criticizing Trump's proposal and the last 20 years of border control policies, including existing border walls spanning 654 miles. The report asserts that walls do not significantly reduce smuggling or immigration or make the United States safer.
“Border walls and militarization have inflicted terrible damage upon border ecosystems and border communities, and have pushed border crossers into harsh deserts where thousands have died," report author Scott Nicol said in a press release. He chairs the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team.
Of the 14 county sheriffs in Massachusetts, three — all Republicans — were among the 380 sheriffs who signed a letter to members of Congress in March, asking them to tighten border security and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Participating Massachusetts sheriffs were Hodgson, Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald.
"All the sheriffs are 150 percent behind it," Hodgson said last week.
In clarifying comments Friday, he said he was not referring specifically to the wall.
"They're behind securing their communities and making them safer," he said. "If we don't support this, then we're essentially not living up to our obligation to keep them safe."
The president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, a Democrat, was not available to comment because he was hosting a training with the National Institute of Corrections, according to spokesman Kevin Maccioli.