April 20, 2017 (San Diego) Reverend Wayne Riggs of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, was very clear. “I am very proud to be standing here today with Assembly Woman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, and with a Senator whom I haven’t met. I like to shake hands with courageous people.And these two are very courageous people.”
Why did Rev. Riggs say this He recognized both legislators for introducing two bills, one in the Assembly and one in the State Senate, that are intended to slow down the racist agenda from Washington DC. These are Assembly Bill 946, “resist the Wall Act.” On the Senate side, Senate Bill 30. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-AD-80) told the crowd that they “hope this will help resist the wall that this president has chosen to foist taxpayer dollars on.”
Gonzalez added, “we are here clearly to send a message to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions that California will resist this bigoted and hateful border wall. We know that this is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
She also highlighted a fact, that we live in an area with binational communities. “In this region and in regions across the border that require easy travel back and forth.”
AB 946 will divest state retirement funds from any traded company, that accepts a contract to build the wall. In the legislative summary it reads:
This bill would prohibit the boards of the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the State Teachers’ Retirement System from making new investments or renewing existing investments of public employee retirement funds in a border wall construction company, as defined. The bill would require the boards to liquidate investments in a border wall construction company within 12 months of the company contracting or subcontracting to provide work or material for a border wall, as defined. The bill would require the boards, in making a determination to liquidate investments, to constructively engage with a border wall construction company to establish whether the company is transitioning its business model away from activities related to a border wall. The bill would provide that it does not require a board to take any action unless the board determines in good faith that the action is consistent with the board’s fiduciary responsibilities established in the California Constitution. The bill would make related legislative findings and declarations.
Senator Ricardo Lara (D-SD33), who represents Los Angeles in the State Senate, but grew up in San Diego, spoke next, HIs bill is SB 30 and in the summary, it reads partially as follows:
This bill would prohibit the state, commencing January 1, 2018, from awarding or renewing any contract with any person, as defined, that at the time of bid or proposal for a new contract or renewal of an existing contract is providing or has provided goods or services to the federal government for the construction of a federally funded wall, fence, or other barrier along California’s southern border.
Senator Lara told the crowd “we are here in San Diego to speak out against President Trump’s wasteful and destructive border wall. Trump called it a big, beautiful wall. But we know it is a multimillion dollar boondoggle”
He also pointed out that walls have not worked to keep people separated and divided. “They haven’t worked here in the U.S. for years.” The only thing they have done is divide families and communities with both steel and concrete.
Lara added, “with SB 30 we are asking companies to take the taxpayer side against this wasteful wall that will do nothing to make our communities safer.” Lara also pointed to one of the contradictions of the wall. The president did campaign on how communities on the border were very dangerous due to illegal immigration. However, he pointed out that places like San Diego, which share the border with Tijuana, are among the safest communities in the United States.
He also said that many of the largest construction companies in the United States, indeed some are transnationals, are not bidding on the project. Among them Bechtel. CNN indeed reported on this as follows:
As of Tuesday afternoon, the three largest recipients of federal government contracts, as ranked by the Engineering News-Record’s most recent Top 400 Contractors list — Bechtel, Fluor Corp., and Turner Corp. (no relation to CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting) — are not listed as interested vendors for the US Customs and Border Protection’s two requests for proposals (RFPs) that closed Tuesday at 4 p.m.
These companies are afraid of the backlash in other countries, where they may lose contracts as well. Moreover, in Mexico, there is already a backlash against companies that might take this contract. CEMEX, one of the largest companies in Mexico has now said that they are not going to take any contracts, and the Archdioceses of Mexico has said that any company that participates are nothing less than tractors to the country.
They also are critical of the Mexican federal government that has been weak before the companies considering joining the project. “The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence. Of xenophobic hate to silence low paid workers.”
Kim Delfino from Defenders of Wildlife pointed out that this project would cut though wild life preserves, where endangered species live.It will also end the effort to bring jaguars, which once were common in the United States. back to the American wilderness. It will bisect the Tijuana river and divide the federally protected Jacumba Wilderness Area.
“This will absolutely devastate federal and state efforts to recover the peninsula bighorn sheep.” Both the state and federal governments (with cooperation from Mexico) have spent millions of dollars to bring back from the brink of extinction.
Defenders of Wildlife works all along the United States-Mexico border. The wall “is going to be a disaster, for our economy, our environment, and the people. It is going to waste billions of dollars and set back environmental efforts by decades. And doing nothing for national security.”
Like others, she pointed out that “border security infrastructure already covers 700 miles of the US-Mexico border. Border barrier already affects dozens of endangered and rare species in California, including two species here in San Diego that San Diego has spent a lot of money to protect. The Arroyo Toad and the Quino Checkerspote Butterly ”
Both legislators intend to let Washington know that the state will resist, and that there will be real consequences to this wall. It is is using the moral authority of the state for a just cause. It is not unlike the South African divestment in the 1980s. They will fight to represent communities that they represent. These communities have many people who came to the United States as immigrants.
Moreover, the wall, which Mexico will not pay, was used as a way to divide people, immigrants from native born. It was also used to attack Mexicans and Mexican Americans.