US

Private Border Wall Group Closes Gate After International Agency Forced Gate Open, Ordered It to Stay Open

By Mimi Nguyen-ly

A nonprofit behind a privately funded section of the border wall near New Mexico announced that its gate is “officially closed” on June 11 after an international agency had forced its gate open and had ordered the gate to be kept open pending discussions.

“BREAKING: Our gate is officially closed as an agreement has been reached with the IBWC [International Boundary and Water Commission]!” nonprofit We Build the Wall said on its Facebook page late June 11, local time. “The border wall we built is now sealing off this section, once again, that needed to be closed.”

The half-mile barrier of the private border fence, which cost about $6-8 million, sits near Sunland Park, New Mexico.

IBWC Had Forced Gate Open

The U.S. arm of the IBWC, which oversees waterways issues between the United States and Mexico, said earlier in a statement on June 11 (pdf) that the group We Build the Wall had not yet been granted permission to build on some federal land.

Federal officials on June 10 removed the lock on the private gate, opened the gate, and forced it to say open, Buzzfeed News reported.

The IBWC said in its statement that the locked gate prevented access to a government-owned levee road, and a dam called the American Dam.

“The gate was also opened so that USIBWC employees can conduct maintenance and operations at American Dam,” the IBWC statement said.

The gate was to be kept open “pending further discussions with We Build the Wall,” according to IBWC.

IBWC Public Affairs Officer Lori Kuczmanski said that that the IBWC was aware the wall was being built near federal land but would stay on private land, Buzzfeed reported. But on June 2, the organizers of We Build the Wall had submitted a letter requesting to build a gate across federal land, the outlet reported.

“It was not a complete application packet,” she said, according to Buzzfeed.

“When the proper documentation is received for the permit, USIBWC will continue to process the permit application,” the agency’s statement said.

Buzzfeed also reported that the gate had restricted public access to a public historic monument called Monument One, the first in a series of obelisks that mark the United States-Mexico border from El Paso to Tijuana. The IBWC statement did not cite this as a reason to force the private border wall gate open.

Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who had set up a GoFundMe account to fund the private section of the border wall, disagreed with the position that access to Monument One was being restricted, writing on Twitter in an effort to clarify the situation.

Private Wall Built From Donations

The privately-funded section of the United States-Mexico border wall was built from donations that started pouring in late last year when Kolfage set up a GoFundMe campaign after Congress failed to appropriate the amount President Donald Trump requested for a border barrier.

Kolfage accused the IBWC of overreaching its authority in a tweet on June 11, after the gate of the private wall was forced open.

“The IBWC is a fine example of overreach and growing to [sic] big. They are overstepping DHS [Department of Homeland Security], national security experts and undermining @realDonaldTrump as soon as they locked our gate open we noticed many other gates around el Paso just opened up!! They are planning for mass invasion,” Kolfage wrote.

Writing on Twitter, Kolfage posted an image showing a view of the concerned area of the privately-funded wall and the gate.

The text in the image read: “The IWBC responsibility is to control all international water related affairs between the USA and Mexico. This gate has nothing to do with water.

“The IBWC is an overreaching international organization who supports open borders and is 50 percent funded and controlled by the Mexican government.

“The IBWC wants to leave the gate open so the cartels have easy access to run drugs, humans and sex slaves across into America.

“IBWC gave the finger to U.S. Border Patrol and DHS who want the gate shut. IBWC has a long history of leaving gates open so that cartels have easy access.

“Since when does an International organization similar to the United Nations tell the DHS and Border Patrol how to run national security? We won’t stand down!”

Kolfage also called for its commissioner to resign and accused her of having a “bad habit of leaving gates open on our border.”