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NM city sends cease-and-desist to nonprofit that built 1-mile southern border wall section

Privately funded border wall construction headed by "We Build The Wall" near El Paso, Texas in May 2019. (Courtesy of We Build The Wall Inc.)
May 29, 2019

The new privately-constructed 1-mile stretch of U.S.-Mexico border wall reportedly lacks proper permits and New Mexico city officials have issued a cease-and-desist letter.

A spokesperson for Sunland Park, New Mexico said that We Build The Wall Inc., the organization behind the wall’s construction, did not obtain necessary construction permits from the city before it constructed the 1-mile-long wall on private property near Sunland Park and El Paso, Texas, The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday.

The group had crowd-funded more than $22 million to build a portion of the southern border wall, and this 1-mile stretch cost between $6 and $8 million and was put up in about three days.

“The city has not provided any permits, it has not approved of the construction that has gone up already,” spokesperson Peter Ibardo told The Texas Tribune. “They built the structure without authority or any building permits from the city.”

City officials sent a cease-and-desist order on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported.

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“Here we go!! Liberals trying to intimidate us! SOUND THE ALARM. The governor trying to flex, city of Sunland park said we had no permits trying to shut us down- [expletive] They were on site on Friday and gave us green light to build!” tweeted triple amputee Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, We Build The Wall’s founder.

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is involved with the group that’s constructing the wall, said the landowner already went through the permit process. He told The Texas Tribune that “official inspectors were on the property” and the landowner received a permit on Friday before construction began.

Ibardo said the permit was picked up Friday but was reportedly incomplete. He alleged that inspectors were turned away from the property last week.

Ibardo said the project is no different than others that require city approval, and he could not estimate a date to resolve the issue.

“There are a lot of moving pieces to this, it caught everyone off guard,” he told The Texas Tribune.

Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea said the submitted permits take months for approval, and noted a city ordinance that prohibits all barriers more than 6 feet tall, the Washington Post reported.

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“We’ve had members from Sunland Park city government out to inspect the site and to witness the first concrete pour,” We Build The Wall said in a statement to local ABC affiliate KVIA. “We believe this is a last-ditch effort to intimidate us from completing this historic project by a local government with a long history of corruption problems.”

The wall has been criticized by those who claim it will not be effective at combatting illegal border crossings. Kolfage claims otherwise. He posted on Twitter saying, “Our wall is already working to deter illegals! A group came down to cross and saw the wall, immediately turned around and went back up mountain!” along with a photo, in which a group of individuals can be seen on a mountain path.

Kolfage spurred the crowdfunding effort to build the wall, which raised more than $22 million via GoFundMe. It evolved into a nonprofit group, We Build The Wall Inc., which is now backed by former Trump Administration Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Kolfage told the Daily Mail that the construction was approved by President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The 1-mile stretch was constructed in just three days, from Friday to Sunday, and cost around $6 to 8 million.

Bannon said the group consulted with local authorities to identify the most dangerous area on the border. Their intel took them to a mountain strip located in a gap between two 21-mile sections of wall. It’s “where the cartels and asylum seekers are coming in,” Bannon told Yahoo News.