Privately-built border fence did not have permit, Sunland Park officials say

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SUNLAND PARK, N.M. —

UPDATE: The Sunland Park Mayor said the privately-funded border barrier was built in violation of city ordinance and a cease and desist has been issued.

The city was first notified about it on Thursday and tried to inspect the wall, but was denied access. On Friday, the brick company picked up an application which is incomplete, Mayor Javier Perea said.

Aside from plans and other documents not being available, the structure is also taller than city ordinance allows. 

ORIGINAL: Construction continues today on the privately-built border fence near Mt. Cristo Rey, and organizers say they expect to complete the structure by Wednesday.

The new fence, which property owners say is being built in response to illegal entry on the part of undocumented immigrants as well as employee safety issues, is causing controversy on both sides of the border. The group We Build the Wall spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the steel-bollard fence.

Isabel Santos, a former Sunland Park, New Mexico, city council member, on Tuesday morning said she wants to know if the company building the private fence, American Eagle Brick, got the proper permits to build the structure.

“If they are within Sunland Park city limits, they have to have a permit. If I want to build a fence around my house, I need a permit. Do they have a permit?” she asked.

Sunland Park city officials confirmed the property where the fence is being built is within their city limits. They also said no permit was issued for the construction, but that American Eagle officials “did pick up the application”.

Mayor Javier Perea and his staff were looking into the issue today and would be issuing a statement prior to tonight’s council meeting.

Other border advocates also denounce the wall. 

“It’s clear to us that construction of a portion of the wall in private property is nothing but a political stunt by white supremacists and xenophobic groups,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights.

“We find it very worrisome that private citizens are increasingly getting involved in the detention of migrants and now the construction of border walls, and we urge the United States government to look into this situation,” said Adolfo Castro Rios, director of the Human Rights office in Juarez.

“These are individuals who are not trained to properly deal with immigrants and respect their lawful rights and who are often heavily armed. We are concerned this is a situation that may lead to acts of violence against immigrants crossing into the United States without authorization,” he said.

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