A U.S. group building what it claims is the first private wall on the Mexican border said Wednesday it had stopped construction after a New Mexico town ruled the project lacked necessary permits.
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Sunland Park, New Mexico, Tuesday ordered the We Build the Wall group to stop erecting the steel barrier on private land in an area that the group calls "ground zero for illegal drugs, migrants and human sex slaves coming across." Sunland Park is located in the southeast corner of New Mexico, on the Mexican border and about 9 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas.
Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea said the landowner submitted a building application, but it was "incomplete" and the matter had been referred to the city's municipal court.
"The city ordinance only allows a wall up to 6 feet tall and this far exceeds that," Perea told reporters.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said the wall did nothing to enhance border security or deal with the humanitarian crisis on the border.
"To act as though throwing up a small section of wall on private land does anything to effectively secure our southern border from human and drug trafficking or address the humanitarian needs of the asylum seekers and local communities receiving them — that's nonsense," she said in a statement.
The group on its website, in describing its mission, says: "If the Democrats won’t provide the funding for what the American people voted for in 2016 then we the people will."
The group's list of members of its advisory board and various committees and operations includes Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL who founded the convicted private security firm Blackwater; former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; and former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, among others. It has raised over US$23 million on its GoFundMe page and vowed to resume construction.
The wall is allegedly being built in order to close a gap between fencing on the El Paso, Texas section of the border where many Central American families have been entering the United States to seek asylum.
In the same area, a paramilitary group released videos in April showing its members illegally stopping hundreds of unauthorized border crossers.