Oakland City Council Prohibits Contracts With Border Wall Firms

Oakland city officials adopted an ordinance this week blocking the city from working with companies that have contracted with the federal government to build President Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border, the East Bay Times reports

The ban goes beyond merely construction companies, and includes any firm that contracts with the government for the federal project, such as engineering companies, planning and IT businesses, financial institutions, and subcontractors. 

“We’re putting our dollars where our values are,” Councilman Abel Guillén told the Times. “We don’t think a wasteful wall that’s going to cost billions of dollars is a good idea; we feel those dollars could be better used at home on our streets, roads, infrastructure and much more.”

Border wall at Nogales. | Photo: Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr

Nearly two dozen Bay Area companies have expressed an interest in working with Trump's border wall construction since the discussion began. 

We reported in March that Oakland had been working on a resolution to ban border wall contractors and that Berkeley had already passed a similar rule earlier in the year.

Since then, California cities have also entertained the idea including Los Angeles, San Diego, and Watsonville, but Oakland is the first city to actually adopt a formal ban, Guillén said. 

The city has conducted other economic boycotts in the past, such as an ordinance in the 1990s that denounced apartheid in South Africa, Guillén said.

The city also banned work with Arizona-based businesses after former governor Jan Brewer signed a law giving law enforcement broad powers to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally. 

Guillén pointed to Oakland's diversity earlier this year as impetus for the ordinance, noting that Oakland is a city of immigrants and refugees. Twenty-seven percent of its residents are foreign-born, and many are from Mexico. 

Border wall at Nogales. | Photo: Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr

“We know that these types of policies can have an impact,” said Guillén. 

The new policy requires the city to publish a list of vendors under contract with the federal government to build Trump's wall, and forbids city staff from entering or amending existing contracts with those on the list. 

A "border wall compliance certificate" will be issued to to firms that enter into contracts with Oakland, and companies will be required to affirm that no business has been conducted related to the proposed border wall and that no plans are in the works for the future. 

“Our local ordinance is a very practical reaction to what is going on in [Washington] DC,” said Guillén. “We want to be clear that we don’t want our tax dollars in Oakland to be used to support companies that are building this divisive wall.”

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Oakland city council prohibits contracts with border wall firms