Overruled: Border commission locked gate open on privately built wall section, then agreed to lock it shut

Overruled: Border commission locked gate open on privately built wall section, then agreed to lock it shut
The new section of border fencing erected by We Build the Wall. Courtesy Brian Kolfage/We Build the Wall via Twitter

It’s an obvious suspicion: that there may have been higher-level intervention here.

At the end of May, President Trump tweeted out video footage of more than 1,000 migrants rushing in from Mexico via what looked like a breach in the border wall near El Paso.

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Although it seemed to be some kind of breach at the time, later information from Brian Kolfage, the Air Force veteran spearheading the crowd-funded We Build the Wall effort, indicated that a border agency was routinely leaving gates open in the wall sections along that stretch of the border.

The agency in question is the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), a treaty-chartered entity of the U.S. and Mexico dating to the 1880s.  IBWC’s portfolio today is mostly about administering the water agreements between the U.S. and Mexico.  From its offices in El Paso, the U.S. element of the IBWC supervises that administration on behalf of the United States.  There is a counterpart element in Mexico.

It may not be 100% certain that the huge gate-rushing event caught on video was the result of IBWC-supervised personnel leaving a gate open.

But after a tense 24 hours this week, it’s a good bet.

As LU reported previously, the first section of We Build the Wall’s privately-funded structure was completed in May near Sunland Park, New Mexico.  There’s a gate in the section, which We Build the Wall began to lock in June.

On June 11, the IBWC posted a memo on its website announcing that the gate would be left open.  The privately funded wall, said the memo, had not been properly permitted, and it would not be allowed to perform its function until the IBWC was satisfied with its paperwork.

The image in this tweet shows the location of the gate.

Brian Kolfage reported that the locked gate was forcibly unlocked (by deputies from the local sheriff’s department, at the direction of IBWC), and was then locked in the open position.

IBWC cited inability to access water infrastructure and border monuments (lying outside the wall, directly on the international boundary) in its news release about requiring the gate to remain open.  Kolfage offers counterarguments to these points in his tweet stream.

But later the same day, the IBWC reversed itself and announced, in a follow-on memo with almost identical wording, that the gate was to be locked (shut) at night.  The memo doesn’t make it entirely clear that locking the gate at night means locking it shut, but Brain Kolfage did.

The IBWC homepage was also just a shade more forthcoming.

The second memo’s uninformative tone comes off as a trifle peevish.  One theory would be that the IBWC was overruled on its gate-locking decision.  The original decision may or may not have been made in consultation with the State Department, with which the IBWC maintains a permanent liaison office.  Either way, it’s a good question whether the abrupt, almost immediate reversal on locking the gate – locking it shut at night, instead of permanently open – was directed from a level that outranks everyone else involved; i.e., the White House.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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