Walling out wall contractors
It’s funny how sometimes a really stupid idea can give rise to other stupid ideas. Donald J. Trump won the presidency in part on promises to build “a big, beautiful wall” the entire length of the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico. He has since wobbled on that — maybe it doesn’t have to cover the whole length; maybe it will be a fence in places — but he’s stuck with the broader ambition, as well as the cockamamie idea that Mexico will somehow pay for it. (For the record, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said forget about it.) Never mind that smugglers will just find other routes, or that the growing source of illegal immigration to the U.S. comes from people entering legally and then not leaving.
So what idiocy has Trump’s wall inspired? The Los Angeles City Council is moving ahead with a proposal by Councilman Gil Cedillo that any firm or contractor seeking to do business with the city must disclose whether it has accepted any work on Trump’s wall. The idea, of course, is to make the controversial project so toxic that contractors won’t work on it.
The measure parallels the more draconian, and thus even more risible, SB 30 by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), which would bar contractors who work on the border wall from receiving state contracts. As reprehensible as the wall might be — it sends a shameful message to the world about who we are and what we value — it is not illegal. Contractors should be free to seek work without worrying whether the City Council will try to stigmatize them because a majority of its members disagrees with the wall.
The fate of the wall, which arose as a function of politics, should be decided in the political arena and, if warranted, in the courts. State and local governments should not force law-abiding contractors into the difficult position of having to forgo a valid contract or risk losing future ones just because politicians disagree with a federal policy. That is at heart an act of intimidation, and we’re already seeing enough bullying out of the White House. The City Council — and the state Legislature — should back off.