Berkeley considers whether to contract with companies building Trump’s border wall

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The city of Berkeley opened an online public forum for residents to provide input on whether the city should be prohibited from signing contracts with companies involved in the construction of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

Berkeley City Council will take into consideration the public input before voting on the matter at its meeting Tuesday. The proposal recommends directing Berkeley’s city manager to create an order forbidding the city of Berkeley from contracting with companies involved in the construction of the border wall between Mexico and the United States.

City spokesperson Matthai Chakko, who helped to create the public forum earlier this year, said it addresses the need to increase public participation, especially among students who might not be able to attend the regular City Council meetings.

“It’s hard for students to be involved sometimes. … How we get more people engaged is important to us,” Chakko said. “That includes people who are young and part of the campus community. This is one of our efforts to broaden our approach.”

The forum, titled “Berkeley Considers,” asks users if they think the council should vote to pass the recommendation. The post will remain open to the public until noon Tuesday before the City Council meeting and has so far received 47 responses, with about 72 percent of participants voting “yes” and 25 percent voting “no.”

Voters can also leave comments expressing their opinions on the matter, which other users can view as well. Some comments supported the initiative’s stance against the Trump administration’s immigration policies, while other comments expressed a concern the ordinance would negatively impact city-funded businesses.

“There’s a fair expectation that in a city like ours, we would be leading with our values,” said Igor Tregub, chair of the city’s Housing Advisory Commission, speaking from his personal capacity. “I actually don’t anticipate that there would be extensive impact (on city-funded housing projects).”

The proposal was drafted by Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Sophie Hahn and Cheryl Davila. Bartlett said the border is harmful to California’s economy and that the ordinance would protect the state’s prosperity.

“(The action is) important because California is the most prosperous state in the nation because we believe in openness,” Bartlett said. “We don’t subscribe in division.”

Contact Adrianna Buenviaje at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @adriannaDC.