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Feds take control of Sunland Park border gate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal government agency took control of a gate that’s part of a private organization’s “border wall” on private land in Sunland Park in southern New Mexico, according to the U.S. section of the International Water and Boundary Commission.

Commission officials in a news release earlier this week said that We Build the Wall, a private company, built a gate across a levee road used by the water commission without authorization. The gate – between New Mexico and Mexico – is connected to the privately-funded, half-mile border wall built in southern New Mexico on private land. The bollard fence is 2,300 feet long, according to the group’s cofounder Iraq War veteran Brian Kolfage’s Twitter account.

We Build the Wall submitted an incomplete application permit to the IWBC on June 2 and didn’t respond to the IWBC’s questions and requests for additional information, according to the commission news release. We Build the Wall ignored repeated requests to unlock and open the gate, according to the release.

The water commission’s responsibilities include applying boundary and water treaties between the U.S. and Mexico and settling differences that arise between the two countries.

The commission opened the gate to give its workers access to American Dam, which is at the border of the two countries.

On Monday afternoon, IWBC officials replaced the lock on the gate with a lock of their own, according to the agency, which said it will keep the gate closed at night and open during the day.

Kolfage said on Twitter that there is security near the gate when it is open during the day.

The gate also prevented access to Monument One, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and marks the start of the land boundary between New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, said Nia Rucker, the policy counsel and regional manager for the ACLU in Las Cruces, in a letter to the Journal.

She called the wall project an “increasingly bizarre and lawless tale of anti-immigrant hate.”

“This kind of behavior has no place in New Mexico, and it’s time to stand up to these out-of-state anti-immigrant bullies that have run roughshod over our border communities these past months,” she said in the letter. “The IBWC did the right thing by forcing the gate to remain open. Now they should continue to do the right thing by denying all permit applications for private construction of barriers on public property, removing the unauthorized gate, and requiring We Build the Wall remediate public land to its prior state.”

Officials from We Build the Wall couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday.

The IWBC has an agreement for services from the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and a patrol sergeant and deputy accompanied the federal officials when they opened the gate, said Kelly Jameson, a spokeswoman for Doña Ana County.

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