A federal judge has prevented a private fundraising group, made up of Donald Trump supporters, from building its own wall next to the river that separates the US and Mexico.
US District Judge Randy Crane's order, which came after a federal government request, instructs We Build the Wall's contractor, Fisher Industries, not to install any fencing or walls along the Rio Grande until it has met the requirements of the International Boundary and Water Commission.
The motion came two days after a state judge issued a separate temporary restraining order. Crews had continued clearing brush and preparing to build their planned wall, according to local sheriff's deputies who visited the site Wednesday.
We Build the Wall has raised $25 million since December 2018, when founder Brian Kolfage launched a GoFundMe page during a government shutdown triggered by Trump's demands for border wall funding.
The organisation's board includes former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, another Trump ally.
So far, the group has built less than 1.6 kilometres near El Paso, Texas. It now plans a 4.8-kilometre segment of posts and concrete in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley.
Kolfage has said his group won't begin construction until it gets the commission's approval on plans that critics say could cause severe erosion and re-route floodwaters. But on social media and in fundraising messages, Kolfage has repeatedly solicited donations by claiming construction crews are close to installing fence posts just steps from the river.
Those messages have alarmed some nearby residents and opponents of wall construction, including the nonprofit National Butterfly Centre, which is near the site.
In response to criticism posted by the butterfly centre, Kolfage posted baseless claims that the butterfly centre and others support drug cartels and human traffickers.
Australian Associated Press