An international agency that had demanded a privately built gate on the U.S-Mexico border be kept open at all times reversed its decision on Tuesday citing “security concerns.”
Officials at the International Boundary and Water Commission, a body that oversees boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico, had on Monday propped open the gate on Monday, Buzzfeed News reported. They said that We Build the Wall, a group that privately funded the segment of the wall in New Mexico, had failed to follow the required authorization process.
“They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that’s not how it works,” commission spokeswoman Lori Kuczmanski told Buzzfeed News, which was among a number of news outlets to trumpet the apparent setback for immigration hardliners.
Indeed, Brian Kolfage, We Build the Wall’s founder, reacted to the commission’s decision in a tweet, saying that it was “a fine example of over reach and growing to[o] big.”
“They are over stepping [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 said.
However, just a day after the gate was propped opened, the International Boundary and Water Commission changed its stance. On Tuesday, it announced that the gate would thenceforth be locked at night for security.
“The U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) will lock the privately-owned gate on federal property at night effective immediately due to security concerns,” the commission said in a statement, noting,”Until this decision, the private gate was in a locked open position.”
The commission also repeated its accusation that We Build the Wall had erected the gate on federal land “without authority.”
“After repeated requests to unlock and open the private gate, the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), accompanied by two uniformed law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, removed the private lock, opened the gate, and locked the gate open pending further discussions with We Build the Wall,” the commission said.
Kolfage reacted to the developments by thanking the commission for allowing “us to protect the citizens of sunland park and El Paso.”
Kuczmanski told Buzzfeed News that We Build the Wall’s permit “is still in the works.”
We Build the Wall
Since launching its fundraising campaign last December, We Build the Wall has brought in more than $23 million toward its $1-billion goal. Late last month, it completed sections of the wall near Sunland Park, New Mexico, including the gate in question.
According to Kris Kobach, a former Kansas secretary of state who serves as We Build the Wall’s general counsel, the group’s aim is to supplement governmental border security efforts by strategically targeting gaps.
“It shows how quickly a private organization can identify the problem, take the steps necessary to mobilize resources and get to the site, and then complete the project,” Kobach told NPR last month.
“Here we go!! Liberals trying to intimidate us!” Brian Kolfage, who launched We Build the Wall’s crowdfunding campaign, said in a tweet after the group was hit with a cease and desist order from Sunland Park’s mayor in late May.
The city has since approved the project and allowed construction to continue.
Liberals meanwhile, have accused We Build the Wall of sharing President Donald Trump’s allegedly anti-immigrant agenda. El Paso-based Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar last month condemned the group as racist, citing former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s role in its fundraising.
“It’s deeply disturbing when outsiders, like Kris Kobach and Steve Bannon, come in and use our community and people as a backdrop to further their racist agenda,” she said. “It’s even more disturbing that a business in our community is furthering this xenophobic narrative. While this wall may be necessary fuel for the president’s political campaign, it will not prevent people from seeking asylum.”