AGC seeks protections for US–Mexico border wall contractors
- The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue local governments that try to punish contractors bidding or performing work on the U.S.–Mexico border wall, according to Bloomberg.
- New York City, Tucson, AZ, and Oakland and Berkeley, CA, are among those that have passed or are considering measures that forbid their municipalities from doing business with wall contractors or require them to divest from those businesses. The AGC said penalizing contractors for performing under lawful, federal contracts is unconstitutional.
- The AGC also requested that local authorities protect workers and contractors' property while working on the wall or wall prototypes, asking that the federal government compensate wall contractors for vandalism-related costs and the expense of additional security.
Controversy has swirled around the border wall project since President Donald Trump used it as a rallying point during the 2016 campaign. As soon as U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) issued a request for prototype proposals in March, local governments began crafting resolutions that would punish companies that decided to get involved.
Notably missing from the swirl of bid proposals were large infrastructure contractors like AECOM and Bechtel. The companies did not make any public statements against the wall project, so it's unknown whether their refusal to participate in the potentially multi-billion-dollar project was a result of opposition on principle or an unwillingness to deal with the political fallout.
The Trump administration has also drawn criticism for its handling of the project's environmental review process. California activists have pushed back against the Department of Homeland Security for declaring that the construction process is exempt from some standard environmental laws — a declaration that would allow work on the wall to begin sooner. In September, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state and the California Coastal Commission alleging that the administration had based its stance on an immigration law that expired in 2008.
Prototype construction near San Diego began in September and wrapped up late last month. Six contractors erected eight sample wall sections, half of which were built using concrete and the other half from alternative materials.
According to NBC News, CBP is not prepared to move on with construction for at least another 10 months. In the meantime, the prototypes will be tested for "breachability" while Congress grapples with how to fund the project.
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