A private border wall, built by a group called "We Build the Wall" must keep its gate open, according to an international agency charged with preserving access to natural resources, waterways, and monuments.
The privately built, half-mile-long stretch of border wall was built with $23 million raised mostly using an internet crowdfunding site, GoFundMe. The project was unveiled last week in a ceremony that challenged the federal government to take up the slack on building a wall along the United States' southern border with Mexico before private agencies take matters into their own hands.
But the huge wall has a huge gate, and representatives of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, want the gate kept open so that authorities from either side of the fence can access a federally built levee and dam on one side of the border and a national monument on the other, according to Buzzfeed News.
The half-mile-long fence extends only 33 feet onto federal land, but that's enough, apparently, for IBWC to exercise control over the border wall's purpose, and Monday, the group cracked open a large gate in the fence and demanded the gate remain that way permanently.
IBWC claims that "We Build the Wall" could have known it was operating in violation of an international treaty if it had asked for permission or guidance before construction.
"This is normally done well in advance of a construction project," IBWC's spokeswoman, Lori Kuczmanski, told Buzzfeed. "They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that's not how it works."
“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," she added.
It's not clear how often agents of either government need to access the dam and levee, or "Monument One," the first in a series of "obelisks" that mark the border between the United States and Mexico.
Brian Kolfage, the president of We Build the Wall, and the chief executive of the operation, told The Washington Times that he believes there is more to IBWC's demand to keep the border gate open than simply concern for two seemingly unimportant water features and a forgotten statue.
“The IBWC commissioner @harkjay350 has a bad habit of leaving gates open on our border.last week she left open this gate! largest invasion on record 1000 crossed at once! She just locked our gate wide open for illegals to invade America!” Kolfage tweeted earlier this week.
“The IBWC is a fine example of over reach and growing to big. They are over stepping DHS, 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,” he later added.
Kolfage says the group will challenge IBWC's determination in court. In response, IBWC waffled a bit on its commitment to keeping the gate open, telling Buzzfeed that they would agree to keep the gate closed at night to preserve the integrity of the wall and "due to security concerns," and that they would "work" with We Build the Wall on both this segment of the border wall and any others We Build the Wall might construct in the future.
Elsewhere, We Build the Wall is under investigation for its fundraising efforts. Florida's Attorney General announced last week that We Build the Wall, which is incorporated in Florida, will have to undergo an audit after the Attorney General's office received complaints about its fundraising practices.
The United States Customs and Border Patrol, conversely, said that it isn't necessarily bothered by We Build the Wall's efforts, but that they are undertaking their own wall plan which could conflict with We Build the Wall's planned projects.