California legislators took the first step Tuesday to ban state government contracts for any company that helps build President Trump’s promised wall along the Mexico border, with the author of the plan urging colleagues “to be on the right side of history.”
The bill by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would prohibit any company from receiving a new or extended contract with the state of California if it participates in a future effort to build a new wall along the 2,000-mile international border.
“The wall is another attempt to separate and divide us,” Lara said in testimony to the Senate Governmental Organization Committee. “It sends a message that we are better off in a homogenous society.”
Senate Bill 30 won committee passage on a party-line vote, with Republicans expressing concern about the need for additional border security. Representatives of the construction industry also voiced opposition, arguing Lara’s bill forces contractors into the middle of a divisive political fight.
“This is precedent-setting,” said Todd Bloomstine, a lobbyist representing the Southern California Contractors Assn. “What next unpopular project would be [on the] blacklist?”
Lara told lawmakers he will amend the bill to exclude any work by a company — including current bids on border wall projects — that takes place prior to the bill’s becoming law.
Trump’s campaign promise of a new border wall remains in limbo in Washington, as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle voice skepticism about its funding.
Tuesday’s hearing in Sacramento often veered into the appropriateness of the wall itself, with environmental groups expressing concerns about animal species that live on both sides of the border. That testimony became emotional for Juan Altamirano, an associate director of Audubon California who crossed the border with his family as a young child.
“We need more migration and not stagnation,” Altamirano said.