The mayor of a city in New Mexico has ordered a company that raised $22 million for a border wall to immediately stop construction. Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea said that the company, We Build The Wall, failed to obtain the proper permits.
Construction started just recently
After Congress refused to give President Donald Trump the funding he requested for the construction of a border wall, We Build The Wall started a GoFundMe campaign to privately fund the project and raised more than $20 million.
After the company failed for months to give updates about the project's progress, it faced accusations that it had scammed donors.
In a Facebook post, company founder Brian Kolfage claimed that he had deliberately not updated donors because "powerful people want to stop our progress" and he didn't want to "tip anyone off."
On Monday, Kolfage announced in another post that a section of the border wall that his company had been working on in New Mexico was "nearly complete." He told the Texas Tribune that this wall cost between $6 and $8 million.
But by the next day, We Build The Wall had been served with a cease and desist order from the city of Sunland Park, New Mexico.
What happened now?
"The city has not provided any permits, it has not approved of the construction that has gone up already," Peter Ibardo, a spokesman for the city of Sunland Park, told the Texas Tribune. "They built the structure without authority or any building permits from the city."
In a news conference, Perea said an incomplete application had been submitted by the company on Friday, after construction was already underway.
"At this point, it will be turned over to the courts for follow-up on the matter," Perea said.
Perea also said that the wall was taller than the 6-foot height limit for walls constructed within city limits.
We Build The Wall has insisted that it followed proper procedure. In a statement sent to KVIA-TV, We Build The Wall said that it had "done everything" necessary "to be in compliance with all regulations" and that the order to stop construction was "a last ditch effort to intimidate us from completing this historic project by a local government with a long history of corruption problems."
Kolfage responded to the cease and desist order by suggesting in multiple Facebook posts that city officials had been "paid off" to "lie and shut down the wall project" by a Mexican cartel.
"Follow the money," he wrote. "Border patrol agents told me the first person to throw a fit was paid off by the cartel. Sunland Park New Mexico is loaded with corrupt officials." He offered no proof to back up this claim.
In addition to Kolfage, the company's leadership team includes former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.