Days into his presidency, Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13767, requiring the federal government to build a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico. Since then, his administration has been soliciting proposals from companies interested in building this wall.
Even a cursory look shows the wall to be more than a boondoggle. It will be a stain on our history that conflicts with California values.
We welcome immigrants as a vital part of our cultural fabric and our economy. This is why California must speak out as a state against the wall. We were complicit with the systematic exclusion of Chinese immigrants for decades dating back to the 1850s, and also with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This wall is another tragic mistake of history.
Aside from being morally abhorrent, there are many good gripes to have with Trump’s wall. Consider these:
Most people object to the wall. In March, a Public Policy Institute of California poll found that 72 percent of Californians oppose the wall, and a recent Pew Center poll found that 62 percent of U.S. adults feel the same.
The border wall will be expensive. Trump’s budget includes $2.6 billion to plan and build the wall. However, a leaked internal administration report concluded the wall will cost up to $21.6 billion and will take over three years to build.
Despite Trump’s claims, the Mexican President stated that their government won’t foot the bill. In response, Trump has said a tariff on trade with Mexico will pay for it. This is really a tax on Americans buying goods from our third largest trading partner.
Furthermore, the wall won’t be effective in meeting Trump’s stated goal of curbing undocumented immigration. A 2006 Pew Research Center report estimated that nearly half of all undocumented immigrants arrived legally through a port of entry such as an airport or border crossing, where they were subject to a search by immigration officials. A border wall would have no effect on this population.
Despite these facts, the administration is moving forward with this ill-advised and irresponsible plan built on hate and ignorance. Making matters worse, the president’s pet project will waste billions of taxpayer funds that should be used for important infrastructure improvements—better highways, regional transit, or high speed rail.
In California, we build bridges, not walls. That’s why I introduced the Resist the Wall Act, or Assembly Bill (AB) 932, which requires our state pension funds to divest from any companies involved with the construction of what will be a national eyesore.
More than 375 companies have shown an interest in building the wall. These companies are putting profit before justice and integrity. With the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System’s investments valued at over $500 billion, this bill will send a clear message to businesses—the state won’t tolerate hateful greed.
Immigrant stories are the history of America and this is a nightmare. We must stand together and fight this wall because it symbolizes weakness and hate to the world.
California always leads the way in doing the right thing. More than 30 years ago, the state withheld investment to pressure South African leaders to end apartheid. The Resist the Wall Act will continue our activism and make it clear that this is a wall of shame, and we don’t want any part of it.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City and parts of South San Francisco.