Sunland Park: A US military veteran has launched construction on the first section of private border wall between the United States and Mexico, using money crowd sourced by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Sporting a red "Make America Great Again" hat, New Mexico resident Jeff Allen proudly oversaw the groundbreaking last weekend as workers with heavy construction equipment began erecting a towering fence of steel slats on land he co-owns in the city of Sunland Park, across from Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico.
"This is Americans' way of saying, 'Congress, you're worthless, and we're fighting it. We're going to build (the wall) ourselves,'" Allen, 56, told AFP.
"This is not Europe. This is America. We protect our borders."
Determined to help Trump fulfill his promise to build a "big, beautiful wall" on the border, Allen decided to do part of it himself, together with the United Constitutional Patriots, a right-wing militia that carries out vigilante border patrols.
He said the project was being funded by We Build the Wall, a company launched by war veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage using millions of dollars in private donations he raised through an online campaign called "We The People Will Fund The Wall."
The company's advisory board is chaired by Steve Bannon, the far-right strategist and former Trump advisor.
Kolfage celebrated the new wall Monday by posting a sleek video of its construction on Facebook.
"WE DID IT!!! First privately funded wall is nearly complete! DONATE NOW to fund more walls!" he wrote.
The new private barrier is being built at the spot where the states of New Mexico and Texas intersect with Mexico, outside El Paso.
It is a spot often used by migrants, mainly Central Americans, to reach the United States. US Border Patrol says 98,052 migrants were detained in the El Paso sector from October to April.
Allen, a Cincinnati, Ohio native who moved here six years ago, said it was also a crossing point rife with crime. Border crossers have tried to kill his dog, slashed his tires and thrown rocks at him, he said.