SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (KTSM) — A privately built and funded border barrier stands tall in Sunland Park, N.M., right behind the business of Borderland resident Jeff Allen.
The barrier was paid for by the $25 million raised by donors and built by “We Build The Wall.” The organizer, Steve Bannon, was arrested last year for allegedly pocketing $1 million of donor money.
On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump pardoned Bannon, and Allen is pleased with the decision, saying he himself donated to “We Build The Wall” and says the wall is doing its job.
“I donated for a wall, a wall was built,” Allen said.
Allen told KTSM 9 News he did end up selling the portion of his land on which the wall sits to “We Build The Wall.”
“Bannon did this for a reason, he was involved in this for a reason and it wasn’t to gain notoriety. It wasn’t for anything like that,” said Allen. “There’s a problem on this border that people refuse to see.”
He added that he knew Bannon personally and is glad he was pardoned by Trump, despite “We Build The Wall” pledging to donors that all the money raised would go toward border barriers.
“They’re trying to say, well, he took money for a salary while he was doing all this. You know a person can’t put 100 percent of their time into something and without making an income,” said Allen.
Bannon and the three others who were also indicted for allegedly defrauding the “We Build The Wall” donors pleaded not guilty. However, Bannon was the only one pardoned by Trump and Bannon’s trial was still months away.
The pardon comes as Trump faces a second impeachment trial and it raises questions about the validity of those pardons if he is convicted in the Senate.
“(The pardons) may actually, because of the 14th Amendment, no longer be valid because acts that occur after the time of impeachment technically aren’t considered actionable,” said Dr. Todd Curry, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. (The House voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13, 2021, adopting one article of impeachment against Trump: incitement of insurrection. He issued Bannon’s pardon and dozens others on the early hours of Jan. 20, 2020.)
Curry added that the pardons may or may not be valid, telling KTSM 9 News there is no clear answer and this is something that will wind up in the Supreme Court.
“(They) may or may not actually pardon the individuals who get actual and physical pardons, so they would still be liable for federal crimes,” Curry said.
At one point after completing the wall in Sunland Park, “We Build The Wall” was talking about selling the private border fence to the U.S. government for $1.
KTSM 9 News reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to see if the sale had gone through.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not received any donations of constructed border wall from the private entity We Build the Wall (WBTW),” a statement from CBP read.