“We Build Bridges, Not Walls”

Council Members target companies building border wall

Prior to this morning’s City Council meeting, Council Member Delia Garza and four colleagues previewed their resolution on today’s agenda that would move to limit city business with any companies engaged in the “design, construction, or maintenance of the border wall.”

Delia Garza, Council Members, and supporters preview resolution opposing border wall (Photo by Michael King)

The resolution is co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler and CMs Pio Renteria, Greg Casar, and Ann Kitchen, and would need only another vote to be enacted – passage is likely [UPDATE: Resolution passed on consent]. At this point, the resolution is exploratory, in that it would direct city staff to review the economic or other effects a border wall would have on the City of Austin, and to develop a policy requiring companies doing business with the city to disclose any work related to the “design, construction, or financing” of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

In theory, that would allow the city to consider ending contracts with businesses working in any way on the wall, but the resolution does not yet specify actions or policies beyond “all legally permissible options and all relevant operational impacts to City departments.” At this moment, it appears to be a symbolic statement against White House policy on immigration and specifically against the proposal to build a massive anti-immigration wall on the U.S.-Mexico border (which already features many such obstructions.)

Garza, Adler, and Kitchen all spoke in support of the resolution and against the wall, describing it as a colossal waste of money, detrimental to national security and public safety, and ineffective against the purported threats of illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Each called the wall a “symbol” of Trump anti-immigrant politics and racism, and what Garza the “wrong priorities” in federal policies and spending.

Adler described the wall as in keeping with the “hurtful and destructive rhetoric” against immigrants as represented by the wall, said it would make us “less safe,” and said it is mostly a means for “winning primary elections.”

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

Kitchen noted the support from groups on hand – the Workers Defense Project and the Sierra Club – said, “We’re better than that” in reference to the damaging effects of a wall, and noted that the wall does not only tear apart communities and allies, but will do great damage already to the environment.

The resolution (Item 67 on today’s agenda, and passed on consent) concludes: “The City of Austin supports legislation that provides comprehensive immigration reform; opposes any legislation or federal action that would maintain or expand funding for a border wall or physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border; and opposes any legislation or federal action that would further militarize the border or maintain or expand the role of federally-funded private prisons for the purpose of detaining immigrants.”

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