San Francisco eyes plan to halt business with border wall builders

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A movement has begun that could force major U.S. contractors to choose between building a border wall with Mexico or risk losing out on construction projects from municipal governments.

San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen on Tuesday introduced legislation that would bar any company contracting to build the border wall -- one of President Donald Trump signature campaign promises -- from bidding on future San Francisco city contracts.

Doing business with such companies would be out of line with the city's values, Ronen said.

"Stick to building bridges, not walls." Ronen said.

She was joined by Oakland City Councilman Abel Guillen and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin during a news conference Tuesday. Representatives from advocacy organizations Causa Justa and La Colectiva de Mujeres also spoke at the event.

Standing in front of the offices of T.Y. Lin on California Street, the supervisor promised action. The international construction giant has expressed interest in building the Trump wall on the U.S. and Mexican border.

T.Y. Lin has contributed to a number of major infrastructure projects in the Bay Area, including the replacement of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, a public access project on Pier 7 as well as seismic retrofitting of five underground BART stations in San Francisco and Oakland, according to Ronen.

Ronen also identified Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and the Tutor Perini Corporation as firms that are interested in working on the Mexico border wall and currently have hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with San Francisco.

"By introducing this legislation, we are moving beyond symbolic protest and making it clear to companies interested in doing business with San Francisco, that we expect those companies to uphold basic principles of compassion and dedication to human rights," Ronen said.

"We are here to protect our communities and stand against those companies that are supportive of this wall that is a symbol of discrimination (and) hate," said Gloria Esteva, an immigration activist.

"The wall is not going to prevent the so-called criminals from entering to the United States," said Alejandra Rosero, a longtime immigration lawyer. "It going to be just an expensive structure that will risk even more lives."

The legislation has strong support in San Francisco City Hall.

"That wall is such a strong symbolism of division in our country that we don't want to have anything to do with it including contractors that want to work for the city," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who said he would sign the legislation into law.

The city of Berkeley has already passed a resolution banning business with wall contractors and Oakland is expected to follow suit Tuesday night during a city council meeting.

"We'll be sure to make sure that we send a clear message that you will be boycotted and we will not be doing business with your company," Oakland Councilman Guillen said.

"You don't overcome an evil by cooperating with it and this is why we insist that companies . . . resist," said Father Richard Smith, a civic activist.

"The California state legislature has taken steps to introduce legislation to divest in any company that is investing in Trump's wall," said Guillen, adding that he's gotten many inquiries from other city officials about passing their own anti-wall contractor boycotts.

Officials from T.Y. Lin did not immediately return calls from KTVU FOX 2 News.

By KTVU reporter Tom Vacar. Bay City News contributed to this report.