Walling out wall con­trac­tors

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

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.

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