Border

Citing permit issue, IBWC locks 'We Build the Wall' gate to keep it open

IBWC locks border gate open

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico - UPDATE:

The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) issued the following statement on Tuesday afternoon... (You can read ABC-7's original report from Monday night below the statement).

"A private organization, We Build the Wall, built a gate on federal land in Sunland Park, N.M., near El Paso, Texas, without authority, and then locked the gate closed on June 6, 2019. The private gate blocks a levee road owned by the U.S. Government. 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 gate was also opened so that USIBWC employees can conduct maintenance and operations at American Dam. The USIBWC did not authorize the construction of the private gate on federal property as announced on We Build the Wall's Twitter page. The USIBWC is not charged with securing other fences or gates as reported by We Build the Wall. The international border fences are not on USIBWC property. The USIBWC did not open any other gates in the El Paso area as erroneously reported. Other gates and the border fence are controlled by other federal agencies. An incomplete application permit from We Build the Wall was submitted to the USIBWC on Sunday, June 2. The USIBWC responded to the initial permit request on June 6 with questions and requests for additional information. The USIBWC has not yet received a response from the private organization regarding the Agency's initial response to their permit request.
The USIBWC is concerned about the safety and security of our employees and the infrastructure at the American Dam, which is next to the privately-constructed gate. Despite USIBWC requests to locate the gate further from American Dam, the private gate was constructed in a way that may channel undocumented immigrants into the American Dam area. When the proper documentation is received for the permit, USIBWC will continue to process the permit application."

ORIGINAL STORY:

The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) placed a lock Monday on the gate recently built by the group 'We Build the Wall' to keep it open.

An IBWC spokesperson says the gate is built on federal property and 'We Build the Wall' did not receive a permit to construct it.

"'We Build the Wall' did not receive a permit to construct a gate on federal property," IBWC Public Affairs Officer Lori Kuczmanski said. "It is not acceptable."

The gate seals the gap between the wall and the dam while also closing off access to Monument One.

Kuczmanski tells ABC-7 the IBWC had no problem with the construction of the privately-funded border barrier in Sunland Park as it is on private property. However, once construction of the gate began on June 3rd, that's where the IBWC says it took issue.

"The contractor told the IBWC commissioner on June 4 the gate would remain open," Kuczmanski said. "It wasn't. On June 7th, letters were exchanged, and their lawyer replied immediately saying 'It will be handled immediately.'"

Kuczmanski says the IBWC continued to monitor the gate over the weekend and after it remained closed and locked into Monday the government agency took action to put a lock on the gate to keep it open.

That prompted a series of tweets from Brian Kolfage, the president and founder of 'We Build the Wall', Monday night.

"The IBWC is a fine example of over reach and growing too big," Kolfage said in one tweet. "They are over stepping DHS, national security experts and undermining President Trump. 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 is also calling for an investigation into the IBWC and for the firing of the commissioner Jayne Harkins.

Meanwhile, the IBWC says 'We Build the Wall' must go through the permit process but even that won't guarantee approval to have the gate closed.


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