Austin, TX to ban border wall contractors from future city contracts

This File photo shows prototypes of border walls in San Diego. (AP Photo/Elliott Spagat, File)

City Council members announced their solidarity Thursday with Austin’s immigrant community by pledging not to conduct any city business with border wall contractors.

“In Austin we build bridges, not walls,” said Mayor Steve Adler.

The resolution passed 10-1, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair dissenting.

At a Thursday morning press conference before the council meeting, officials spoke to Austin’s welcoming history of immigrants and their value to Austin’s diverse culture and economy.

“If Texas were its own country, it would rank second, only behind the U.S., in total trade with Mexico, second as the biggest buyer of Mexican exports and second as the largest supplier of imports to Mexico,” said Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria. “But Texas and Mexico are so much more than business partners. We have a shared history. And more importantly, we have a shared future. That is why we in Austin are interested in building economic bridges, NOT expensive walls.”

Austin is one out of dozens of cities across the U.S. joining the coordinated boycott of border wall contractors in an effort to delay construction of President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall.

The second-in-command at the U.S. Homeland Security Department, Elaine Duke said Wednesday “we shouldn’t be tolerating” cities that “blackball” companies for their border wall connections. And the Associated General Contractors of America trade group says such boycotts are violations of constitutional provisions that say federal laws supersede those enacted by states and local governments.

But Council Member Delia Garza said by taking this stand, Austin is “not supporting the current divisive efforts that encourage racism and discrimination that would isolate Austin from its cultural and economic partners.”

This resolution does not apply to contractors who may have worked on the existing border wall, only to future contractors that work to extend the wall.

“We don’t intend to go back in time,” Garza said.

Garza said this resolution will help the City sort through current city contractors to ensure Austin will only do business with “good community partners.”

“As stewards of our local tax dollars, we have a responsibility to spend them in ways that are consistent with the values of our community,” said Council Member Ann Kitchen. “To even remotely support such an expensive and ineffective project would be extremely wasteful at a time when our community has so many other funding needs like healthcare, education, infrastructure and transportation.”

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