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Steven Bannon used crowdfunded cash to build part of President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. But he’s going to have to leave the gate open.
On Monday afternoon, international officials propped open the section of the wall built by We Build the Wall, a nonprofit run by Bannon and Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, according to BuzzFeed News. Its path runs through federal lands and cuts off access to waterways and a public monument. But authorities said the group didn’t apply for the necessary permits.
"This is normally done well in advance of a construction project," said Lori Kuczmanski, a spokesperson for the International Boundary and Water Commission, which would have had to clear the project, according to BuzzFeed News. The organization regulates waterway issues between the U.S. and Mexico.
"They think they can build now and ask questions later, and that's not how it works,” she added.
Last fall, Kolfage started a GoFundMe campaign aiming to do an end-run around the federal government to secure funding for the wall. After he raised over $23 million, Bannon joined the efforts to construct one-half mile of the wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico — 33 feet of which falls on federal property and blocks access to a levee and a monument referred to as Monument One, one of a series of obelisks that mark the U.S.-Mexico border.
Kolfage claims that the wall complies with regulations. But authorities said that We Build the Wall organizers only sent a letter and "a couple of drawings,” not a full application, Kuczmanski told BuzzFeed News. Kolfage also tweeted that he intentionally started the project during a three-day weekend “when the corrupt city was partying over the holiday!”
When Kolfage found out that authorities would make him keep the wall’s gate open, he also claimed that Mexico had opened the wall (it didn’t) and is planning a mass invasion (it’s not).
International authorities aren’t the only ones trying to keep this wall from going up. The city of Sunland Park also issued the group a cease-and-desist, saying that the group didn’t obtain the required permits, according to the New York Times.
That hasn’t stopped the group from moving forward with construction using “advanced technology,” as Bannon previously told VICE News.
“I'm obsessed with the hempcrete,” he said, referring to the wall’s concrete-like construction material made from hemp. “I think this plant has got tremendous entrepreneurial aspects to it, and it's innovative.”
Bannon also said that the group picked this spot to build their wall because “Border Patrol told us that it is the number one most important mile to close,” which Customs and Border Protection denied to BuzzFeed News.
We Build the Wall has also come under some scrutiny. After the fundraiser failed to reach its $1 billion goal in January, GoFundMe refunded $6 million worth of donations. The state of Florida is now investigating the organization after receiving complaints from people who donated.
Cover image: Former White House strategist Steve Bannon poses prior to an interview with The Associated Press, in Paris, Monday, May 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)