Bay Area Wants Contractors to Build Cities, Not Trump’s Wall

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By Joyce E. Cutler

Companies bidding on any Mexican border wall the Trump administration proposes can probably scratch getting business in three San Francisco Bay Area cities.

Oakland adopted March 21 a resolution banning the city from entering into contracts with contractors that supply or support building any wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. A similar ordinance was introduced in San Francisco the same day. San Francisco’s proposal would bar any entities that have bid on or entered into border wall contracts.

“These companies have a choice—build a wall or work with the city and county of San Francisco,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said in introducing the law.

The cities join Berkeley, Calif., which March 14 approved a resolution denouncing the plan for the wall and recommending that Berkeley extract itself from business with companies involved in its construction.

San Francisco Outright Ban

The San Francisco proposal would mandate a ban while the Oakland and Berkeley resolutions are less restrictive.

The Oakland City Council unanimously voted to require the city to refrain from new or amended contracts to buy professional, technical, scientific or financial services, goods, construction labor and materials or other services or supplies from businesses with contracts to build the wall.

“I think we live in a very progressive city, so we know we do not want our taxpayers dollars used for a divisive wall,” Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillén told Bloomberg BNA.

About nine in 10 Oakland residents polled agree with the resolution, Guillén said March 21. “I’m hoping that the more cities join in, the more powerful our voices will be in this movement to stop the wall.”

Long Beach, San Diego, Larkspur and Watsonville are among the California cities that have expressed interest in Oakland’s legislation, Guillén said.

A day before the Oakland and San Francisco actions, state lawmakers announced similar moves on the issue. They said state legislation ( A.B. 946) would be amended to require the $514 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System and California State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest pension fund holdings in companies winning contracts with U.S. Customs and Border Protection involving the wall.

Big Names, Big Bans

San Francisco’s proposal would prohibit the city from contracting with companies that bid or win contracts to supply or work on any proposed border wall. The list of interested vendors on for the Department of Homeland Security’s bidding includes Hansel Phelps Construction Co., which San Francisco paid $1.5 billion over five years for work on several projects at San Francisco International Airport.

Another interested vendor is Tutor Perini Corp., which won an $860 million San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency contract to build the city’s central subway, Supervisor Ronen said.

Neither Hansel Phelps nor Tutor Perini representatives were immediately available for comment.

A representative for T.Y. Lin International Inc., a San Francisco-based infrastructure consulting firm also listed on the federal government website as interested in the wall bidding, also couldn’t be reached for comment. The company’s projects include the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge eastern span and the California high-speed rail project.

The deadline for contractors to submit bids for the wall’s first phase is March 29.

Home of Immigrants

One-third of San Francisco residents are immigrants, the city’s proposed law says. Roughly one in four Oakland residents are foreign-born and 31 percent of those are from Mexico, the Oakland resolution says.

President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13,767 directed the DHS to develop plans for building a wall along the southern U.S. border to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

The San Francisco proposal says such a wall “stands as a symbol of prejudice, discrimination, and the denial of human dignity.”

San Francisco is a “major player in the marketplace,” Ronen said. “By introducing this legislation, we are moving beyond symbolic protest and making it clear to companies interested in doing business with San Francisco that we expect those companies to uphold basic principles of compassion and dedication to human rights.”

There appears to be a strong likelihood that the San Francisco ordinance will be enacted. The city has already said it would refuse to join any national registry of individuals based on religion, race, ethnicity or national origin and is committed to funding immigration-related causes including defending individuals fighting deportation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at

For More Information

Oakland's ordinance is at San Francisco's ordinance is at

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