You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

New Mexico Mayor Orders Group Building Border Wall To Stop Construction

Newsweek logo Newsweek 5/29/2019 Donica Phifer
UP NEXT
UP NEXT

The mayor of Sunland Park, New Mexico, has issued a cease-and-desist order to a private group that raised millions to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The wall is being constructed by We Build The Wall, a private organization which began a GoFundMe fundraiser in December 2018 when President Donald Trump faced opposition from Congress in receiving a proposed $5 billion to construct the barrier.

To date, the group has raised over $22 million of a $1 billion goal, something which the group's leader, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, said has been established only because that is the highest monetary allotment that GoFundMe allows for a fundraiser.

The cease-and-desist order was issued on Tuesday after it was determined that the group did not have the proper permits for construction, city spokesperson Peter Ibardo told The Texas Tribune.

“The city has not provided any permits, it has not approved of the construction that has gone up already. They built the structure without authority or any building permits from the city," Ibardo said.

Speaking to KTMS, Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea added that the wall is also in violation of city ordinances that regulate how tall a structure can be. Perea said that the application for construction were never returned to the city by American Eagle Brick.

The company owns the land where the wall was partially constructed over the Memorial Day weekend, the Tribune said.

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who sits on the advisory board for We Build The wall, told the Tribune that the land owner obtained the proper permits needed for construction and that inspectors were present at the build site prior to the start of the build.

© We Build The Wall Facebook

However, Ibardo disputed the statement, telling the newspaper that while an application form was filed, it was incomplete and no permit was issued for construction. Inspectors who attempted to visit the site last week were not allowed to do so, he added.

Kobach told the Tribune that construction for the half-mile length of wall a few miles from El Paso, Texas, cost between $6 and $8 million. The section of wall marks the first construction project from the group which previously faced controversy as donors questioned if the promised project would ever materialize after months passed with no updates on the progress of the wall.

"There is no update because we are remaining silent for a very good reason. You all will have the best present very soon. Remember powerful people want to stop our progress, so to not tip anyone off we are radio silent!," Kolfage wrote on his Facebook page in response to the questions from donors. "The (American Civil Liberties Union) would file a lawsuit to impede our wall success if they knew where and when. But when I guaranteed we'd build the wall I meant it, and we are working with many congressman and senators to help us mitigate these issues from the left-wing attack groups. We are in the homestretch and it's on a need to know basis."

Kolfage said in another Facebook post on Monday that the group is currently working on plans for a second wall, though he did not give a location or a time period when donors could expect to see construction begin.

Speaking to KTMS, Kobach said that the organization plans to turn the wall over to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol once construction is complete.

Workers build a border fence in a private property located in the limits of the US States of Texas and New Mexico taken from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on May 26, 2019. © Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images Workers build a border fence in a private property located in the limits of the US States of Texas and New Mexico taken from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on May 26, 2019.

"They can use it how they see fit," Kobach said, adding that the wall is equipped with lights and underground sensors.

It is unclear if construction has halted on the wall, KTMS reported that contractors expected to complete installation of the barrier on Wednesday.

Sign up to our newsletter and get Newsweek stories delivered to your e-mail

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Newsweek

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon