Crowdsourced Border Wall Hits a New Obstacle

A city ordinance, not liberal tyranny.

A construction worker watches as a section of a privately funded border fence is moved in Sunland Park, New Mexico.Cedar Attanasio/AP

A monthslong effort to build a crowdfunded private border wall hit a new stumbling block Tuesday when the city of Sunland Park, New Mexico, sent a cease-and-desist order claiming builders did not have the necessary permits for the barrier.

“Liberals trying to intimidate us! SOUND THE ALARM,” tweeted Brian Kolfage, the Air Force veteran and conservative media fixture behind the viral GoFundMe campaign. Kolfage said that officials visited the building site last week and “gave…[the] green light to build.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea refuted Kolfage’s claim and said the owners of the property had failed to submit a survey or site plan for the wall, adding that “city ordinance only allows a wall up to six feet tall and this far exceeds that.”

Kolfage started the We the People Will Build the Wall crowdfunding campaign in December after President Donald Trump failed to secure $5 billion in border wall funding he had demanded from Congress. Kolfage’s stated goal was to raise $1 billion in order to fund a private wall along the US-Mexico border.

When the effort fell more than $975 million short of its fundraising goal, Kolfage organized a nonprofit called “We Build the Wall, Inc.” to build parts of the wall on its own. The group says it has completed a half-mile section of wall and Kolfage claimed it was already deterring migrants from crossing the border. 

Kolfage, whose history of peddling fake news led Facebook to ban him from the platform, went on the attack Tuesday afternoon. He called Sunland Park officials corrupt and claimed the holdup was orchestrated by Mexican cartels. Mother Jones has yet to determine whether cartel kingpin El Chapo infiltrated the city zoning board himself or left that task to a subordinate.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.