Austin City Council considers boycott against border wall companies

FILE: Border fence, near Brownsville, Texas. The staggered fence or “wall,” costing $6.5 million per mile, runs along 54 miles of Texas’ 1,254-mile border with Mexico. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE: Border fence, near Brownsville, Texas. The staggered fence or “wall,” costing $6.5 million per mile, runs along 54 miles of Texas’ 1,254-mile border with Mexico. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a 10-1 vote, the Austin City Council took the first step toward a boycott of any company that designs, builds or finances President Donald Trump’s $25 billion proposed border wall between Texas and Mexico.

“This wall is not a way that we should be treating our friends,” said Mayor Adler at a press conference Thursday morning. Council Member Ellen Troxclair, whose District 8 covers much of southwest Austin, was the lone no vote.

Four companies already have been tapped to design and build wall prototypes, including Texas-based Sterling Construction Company, Inc. According to city records, from 2008 to 2014, the city paid the company just under $30 million for work on roads and sewers. The company did not return several requests for comment.

Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria said, “We have a shared history, and more importantly, we have a shared future. That is why we in Austin are interested in building economic bridges, not expensive walls.”

Congress is expected to take up the border wall proposal when it debates an overall immigration reform package this year.

Cesar Ovalde works construction projects on homes and large commercial buildings in Central Texas and volunteers with the Worker’s Defense Project. His thoughts on the border wall are not positive. More than a symbol he says it’s offensive — that it would separate him from his father and brothers still in Mexico and he’d never work for an American company that also builds the wall.

“It’s not for money, but for respect,” he says, “I’d be a hypocrite.”

Phil Thoden, the president of the Austin Chapter of the Association of General Contractors said this was more politics and wouldn’t have that much impact in the real world. He did say that Austin already has problems getting contract bids and this doesn’t help.

City staff is now looking into the potential impacts for a possible ordinance later this year.

Republican leaders in Central Texas came out against the city Thursday. Cedar Park Republican State Rep. Tony Dale told KXAN the council ignored the public safety concerns the wall hopes to address.

“For every businessperson who dreams of building a great company the council and mayor are saying they don’t want to do business with you if you help federal law enforcement protect the sovereignty of our country,” he said.

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