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Tucson City Council passes border wall resolution

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 04:14:21-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) The Tucson City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to formally oppose President Donald Trump's executive order to expand the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution 3-2 on Tuesday.

The city council resolution was passed after wording was changed regarding the city's financial involvement with companies taking part in construction of the border wall.

The five-page city council resolution asks for a comprehensive analysis of "the cost, effectiveness, and necessity, and consequences of U.S. border security policies, including the border wall." It states that the tens of billions of dollars it would cost to build the wall should be spent on things like healthcare, education, housing, or infrastructure. 

It cites environmental concerns and what kind of damage a wall might have on wildlife and rare, endangered species like jaguar. 

The resolution calls the border wall "an affront to the City's core values of inclusiveness and tolerance, and a threat to the economic and cultural vitality of the City, the integrity and stability of the City's communities, and the health and security of the City's residents." It also raises questions about the necessity of the wall, considering a recent decrease in border apprehensions

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, local business groups raised concerns about section 4 of the resolution that refers to companies associated with the wall construction: 

The Mayor and Council hereby expresses its intent to identify all companies involved with the designing, building, or financing of the border wall, and its intent to divest, as soon as practicable, from those companies

At Tuesday night's meeting, the phrase "as is allowed by law" was added after "its intent to divest."

Mike Varney, the President and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, addressed the council Tuesday and sent the following letter to mayor and council prior to the meeting:

The Tucson Metro Chamber represents 1,500 area businesses and their 160,000 employees.  I am writing today to express the Chamber’s concern about a portion of Resolution 22763 that we understand will be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting. 
 
The Tucson Metro Chamber and the business community as a whole are opposed to the language in the last portion of the resolution (Section 4), which states that businesses that participate in the design or construction of the a wall proposed for Arizona’s southern border with Mexico will be "identified and divested of by the City".
 
Many local companies (including many small businesses) compete for and frequently win government contracts. The notion of penalizing any business that may be awarded a contract to work on a component of the proposed border wall or any other lawful project or assignment is extreme and punitive.
 
Restraint of trade is also illegal and results from interference with another person’s ability to do business freely.  One aspect of restraint of trade is forcing or coercing someone to quit doing business or to change their business so as not to compete in the market.
 
The Tucson City Council should remain focused on the issue of the propriety of the border wall and make whatever statement it chooses to make on the proposed construction of that wall.  The City does not have to include punitive measures that will only damage local companies in order to make that statement.
 
The Chamber sees measures like the divestiture component of Resolution 22763 as overreach by government.  No company should be forced to choose which contracts it bids for based on the sentiments of elected leaders.
 
Therefore, the Tucson Metro Chamber respectfully requests that Section 4 be removed in its entirety from Resolution 22763.
Varney told KGUN9 he attended the meeting not to discuss the merits of the wall, but whether the city is potentially overreaching to "punish local businesses who might participate in any project."
 
Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin says despite the change in verbiage, the resolution means the mayor and council have expressed the intent to not invest in companies that are involved in construction of the border wall. 
 
"This focuses the council's action on the city not choosing to invest, in other words buy the stock or securities, in companies that ultimately might be identified as doing work on the border wall," Rankin said.
 
At this point there are not any companies to identify yet, Rankin said. While bidding for contracts began months ago, the federal government has not publicly released a list of the companies awarded contracts.
 
Council member Regina Romero says the section regarding divestment is what gives the resolution "teeth."
 
"We're not only making a statement, we are actually putting teeth to the statement we are making as a jurisdiction," Romero said. "That the mayor and council have big leeway and we can make our decisions in terms of how we invest our money -- the taxpayer money -- and that we will choose to invest the taxpayer funds in the city of Tucson in an ethical way."
 
Romero says the message from Tucson leaders may not be heard by the Trump administration, but she hopes congressional leaders who make decisions about the budget will take their stance into account.
 
Lea Márquez Peterson, the president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, also sent the following letter to mayor and council prior to the council meeting:
I am writing you to express our Chamber's concern regarding Agenda item #9 from tonight's Regular Agenda - a resolution condemning the Presidential Executive Order 13767 (which proposes the construction of a physical wall along the U.S Mexico Border). 
 
While we support the analysis of the "cost and effectiveness" and potential relationship-damaging consequences of building such a Wall, we are concerned about the punitive tone the resolution has directed towards our local businesses. 
 
The Tucson Hispanic Chamber strongly opposes the "identification and divestment" of businesses that work on the design, construction or financing of a Border Wall. This is extreme and potentially illegal. 
 
We have many members of our chamber and in our business community who currently work on federal procurement contracts. The tone of this resolution creates an assumption that if they were to create a component part, advise on design or provide technical skills or labor to build the Wall, they would not be able to receive future City procurement contracts. 
 
We respectfully ask that the language pertaining to businesses be stricken from the resolution.  We support the City of Tucson's right to proclaim and oppose actions at the State and Federal level, and hope you will consider the economic and financial impact to families in Tucson and Pima County whose livelihoods depend on the success of local business. 

At a press conference Tuesday, Tucson city council members were joined by county leaders and representatives of the Tohono O'odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. 

The Tohono O'odham Nation passed a resolution against the wall in February.