The City Council of the nation’s eighth-largest city voted 5-3 along party lines to oppose Trump’s executive order to build a border wall, and to oppose the Border Wall Funding Act, HR 1813, which would tax remittances sent from the United States to other countries to help pay for construction of the wall.
Prototypes of the wall are to be built in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego, just across from Tijuana. While some contracts have been awarded, there is no groundbreaking scheduled for the project.
The resolution of opposition proposed in August by Councilwoman Georgette Gomez was not the one the council approved Tuesday. It did not vote on whether to divest from companies involved in construction of the border wall, should it ever happen.
The resolution directs the city’s independent budget analyst and city attorney to come up with ways the city could legally “disclose,” or expose, companies that agree to work on the wall.
Gomez held a news conference before the council meeting, where San Diegans spoke out against the border wall and the harm it could inflict on the region’s economy and environment.
Speakers said San Diego and other border cities should lead the conversation on the border wall since it will most acutely affect cities along the Southwest U.S. border.
“Washington, D.C. needs to understand the reality of what’s happening in our own back yard. … It’s a bad deal for everyone, but more specifically, it’s a bad deal for us,” Gomez said.
Inside council chambers only a few speakers supported building the wall, while more than 50 people spoke against it. Their reasons varied, though most called it a waste of taxpayer dollars that could be better spent improving the outdated infrastructure at San Ysidro, the busiest border crossing in the world.
Councilman David Alvarez said, “No one can speak to the binational experience” like San Diego, where cultural, familial and business ties cross the border.
Maintaining a good working relationship with Mexico is “not a partisan issue” in San Diego, Alvarez said, noting that Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the city Chamber of Commerce both oppose the wall.
“I’m going to keep it simple because I think our president needs simplicity in messages: The border wall is a stupid idea,” Alvarez said. “We can create a safe border, an efficient border, if we spend the money in the right ways.”
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf disagreed with the idea of disclosing names or divesting from companies that work on the wall, as have the other Republican members of the council.
She asked whether the city would retroactively disclose companies that worked on the wall already built on San Diego’s border. The city attorney told her the issue should be raised later, when the council is prepared to vote on it.
“Other than political posturing, I just don’t see the point of this resolution,” Zapf said.
Republican council members Chris Cate and Mark Kersey did not comment. Councilman Scott Sherman was absent.
(CNS photo by Bianca Bruno shows protesters outside the San Diego City Council meeting Tuesday.)