MIRAMAR BEACH — The city of Sunland Park, New Mexico, has issued a cease-and-desist order in connection with the construction of a privately funded wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, an initiative led by local wounded warrior and conservative activist Brian Kolfage.
In a media appearance Tuesday, Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea said city officials were denied entry to the construction site last Thursday, the day before the nonprofit organization We Build The Wall Inc. began building a nearly mile-long of border wall between the Rio Grande and a steep cliff at Mount Cristo Rey.
Perea added that a representative of the wall project submitted an application for construction with the city last Friday, but the application was not complete and the project was never approved. Phone calls to Sunland Park officials were not immediately returned Wednesday.
According to Dustin Stockton, a Tea party organizer now working with We Build The Wall Inc., construction began at sundown Friday. Stockton also told the Daily News in a Tuesday interview that the nonprofit group's legal counsel had indicated the group had done everything necessary to begin construction, which had been scheduled to wrap up Wednesday.
We Build The Wall Inc. grew out of an initiative started by Kolfage, an Air Force veteran who lost both legs and an arm in a 2004 rocket attack on an air base in Iraq. Initially, the effort was focused on a GoFundMe campaign that aimed to raise $1 billion to assist federal government efforts to build a wall. While the GoFundMe campaign is still active, within weeks of its inception Kolfage changed the focus toward a completely private wall construction through the Florida-registered nonprofit organization We Build The Wall Inc.
Kolfage was not immediately available for comment Wednesday, but the organization's Facebook page includes a post insisting that it was proceeding properly.
"We Build The Wall has done everything they need to do to be in compliance with all regulations," the post noted. "We’ve had members from Sunland Park city government out to inspect the site and to witness the first concrete pour." The post adds that the cease-and-desist order "is a last ditch effort to intimidate us from completing this historic project ... ."
On his own Facebook page, Kolfage claims that We Build The Wall Inc. had expected problems with the city, and that was one reason that construction was scheduled for a holiday weekend.
"We Build The Wall planned for a battle," Kolfage wrote, adding, "that's why we finished the wall in 3 days when the ... city was partying over the holiday!"
According to Kolfage's post, all that is left to finish construction of the initial section of the wall is to pave an adjacent road for Border Patrol vehicles.
Also on Facebook, Kolfage urged supporters of the private border wall to get in touch with Sunland Park officials.
"Burn up the phone lines and email guys!" Kolfage wrote. "WE WON'T STOP! YOU DON'T STOP! BUILD THAT WALL!!"
By Wednesday afternoon, We Build The Wall Inc. was using its Facebook page to promote a rally for supporters of the wall at the site on the property of American Eagle Brick Company in Sunland Park. According to the Facebook post, Kolfage is among a long list of people scheduled to speak at the 11 a.m. rally, as is former Trump administration chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is now working with the private border wall initiative.