A privately funded wall built on the U.S.-Mexico border was ordered to keep its gate open indefinitely by officials on Monday. The wall, near Sunland Park, New Mexico, was built after crowdsourced funding reached $23 million. But the builders failed to get proper authorization, resulting in an order from the International Boundary and Water Commission to keep the wall's gate open for access.
According to a report from BuzzFeed News, the wall was only recently completed by We Build the Wall organizers, but the barrier cuts off access to waterways and a public monument. Builders failed to get the proper authorization to block off the area. IBWC spokesperson Lori Kuczmanski said that permission is usually obtained long before construction begins.
"This is normally done well in advance of a construction project," she said. "They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that's not how it works."
This means that the gate built into the barrier will need to remain open, which officials propped open on Monday in response. The group will now have to work with the IBWC in order to gain the proper permits required to close the gate.
"We're going to lock it in an open position until we come into a mutual decision on how this gate is going to operate," Kuczmanski said.
The fence covers 33 feet of federal land and blocks officials from accessing a historic monument in the area called Monument One. This monument is one in a series that marks the U.S.-Mexico border from Tijuana to El Paso.
According to the IBCW, the construction crew poured cement on federal land and shut the gate when it was done.
"This is policy and procedure, and you don't just come into our property and build first," Kuczmanski said. "We're treating them the same we treat anybody else."
We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage was outraged at the decision and wrote a tweet claiming that the agency was "planning for mass invasion" and had opened the gate along with other gates around the area in preparation. He included video of what appear to be migrants climbing over and under a fence from May 29th as evidence.By Wednesday evening, Kolfage claimed that the fence was closed once again and that the issue was resolved in their favor. Speaking to The Hill on Wednesday, he denied the Buzzfeed report.
"Buzzfeed writes lies. I would not cite anything they report. The issue is about to be fully resolved in our favor," he said.