Border wall GoFundMe leader Brian Kolfage has overcome skeptical donors, an unhappy local permitting office, and even GoFundMe itself in his attempt to build a privately funded border wall in New Mexico.
Now Kolfage’s wall faces another daunting obstacle: a padlock holding a gate in his wall open.
Since Monday, a gate in Kolfage’s border wall has been locked in place by the International Boundary and Water Commission. In response, Kolfage has urged his followers to call the IBWC and demand they “#CloseTheGate.”
The IBWC, a binational commission that administers border and water rules between the United and Mexico, doesn’t have an issue with Kolfage’s wall as long as it’s built on private property, according to spokeswoman Lori Kuczmanski.
At the start of the month, though, Kolfage’s group built a gate that crosses over federal land, despite not obtaining the necessary permits. The gate blocks access to both a boundary market and prevents IBWC employees from doing maintenance work on a nearby flood plain.
“They’ve essentially locked us out of our own property,” Kuczmanski said.
Kolfage’s group, We Build the Wall, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
On Monday, after days of being unable to access the border because the gate was locked, IBWC staffers chained it open. Kolfage raged on Twitter, encouraging his fans to flood the IBWC with calls to “#CloseTheGate.” He also accused IBWC commissioner Jayne Harkins, a Trump appointee, of having the Department of Homeland Security “by the balls.”
Since then, Kuczmanski says the IBWC has been besieged with hundreds of angry calls from Kolfage supporters accusing them of keeping the gate open for immigrants.
“We don’t have social media, so there’s no way for me to reply to all that,” Kuczmanski said.
Kuczmanski compared the gate to someone coming to a house they didn’t own, building a fence around it, and locking the people inside in.
“That’s just not acceptable,” Kuczmanski said.
Kolfage’s calls for an investigation of IBWC as a “UN type” agency differ sharply from his mood about the commission just a few weeks ago. Back then, Kolfage claimed that the IBWC was on his side.
In an earlier permit dispute with the government of the nearby town of Sunland Park, Kolfage insisted that the Trump administration had told the IBWC to support the wall.
Despite Kolfage’s claim, Kuczmanski said there’s no record of anyone in the Trump administration making that call. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.