These Bay Area Businesses Want to Build Trump's Border Wall

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Nearly two dozen Bay Area companies have expressed interest in building Donald Trump's border wall, according to the federal government's website FedBizOpps.gov. They include Oakland and San Francisco construction firms and Silicon Valley surveillance-technology vendors, among others. Some have major contracts with local governments to build BART stations, add facilities at the Port of Oakland, and retrofit the Golden Gate Bridge.

The border wall, a centerpiece of Trump's campaign, is deeply divisive and unpopular in the Bay Area.

Today, an Oakland City Council committee approved legislation that would bar companies bidding on the border wall project from contracting with the city.

"If you want to do business with the city of Oakland, you will not participate in any way in building Mr. Trump's wall," said Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillen, the legislation's sponsor.

If passed, Oakland would be the first city to pass such a law.

Guillen said he hopes the boycott spreads to other local governments as a means of pushing back against anti-immigration politics.


One Bay Area company that expressed interest in bidding on contracts to help build Trump's wall is the Oakland-based Shimmick Construction company.

"No one is commenting at this time," said Jolynn Buresh of Shimmick Construction when reached by phone today.

Shimmick has contracts with BART, San Francisco, and numerous other Bay Area government agencies to build high-profile projects. For example, the company has done tens of millions in work for BART, building new stations and installing electrical cable upgrades along tracks in Oakland and Berkeley.

BART's board of directors recently passed a "sanctuary transit policy" in opposition to the Trump administration's plans to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

Another big construction firm that wants to build Trump's Wall is T.Y. Lin International Group, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

The Express was unable to reach T.Y. Lin's media spokesperson.

T.Y. Lin has worked on large-scale and valuable City of Oakland projects in the past. The company has had several large construction contracts at the Port of Oakland and is working on the Oakland Army Base redevelopment project.

The firms responded to a Department of Homeland Security solicitation asking for "expressions of interest" by companies or individuals who can build prototype wall structures near the border that are "nominally 30 feet tall, that will meet requirements for aesthetics, anti-climbing, and resistance to tampering or damage."

Also on the list of interested bidders for the border wall is American Steel Studios, the famous West Oakland metal fabrication and arts space.

"I am not a supporter of the creation of a wall and I am not a supporter of our current administration," wrote Karen Cusolito of American Steel Studios in an email. She explained that she was interested in receiving more information about the border wall, not helping build it, and somehow ended up on the list of potential bidders after checking a box on the federal government's contract opportunities web site.

Several Silicon Valley surveillance-technology firms are hoping to sell their wares as part of the Trump border wall project.

Optasense, a British company with subsidiaries in the United States, manufactures fiber optic-linked sensor technologies. The company is among one of dozens of tech firms hoping to cash in on beefed-up border security.

Richmond-based Simularity sells computer programs that analyze surveillance video and other data to detect people and objects. The Express was unable to reach anyone with the company for comment.

Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington voted in favor of the law that would bar companies bidding on the border wall from doing business with the city. "I believe one power we do have is voting with our dollars," she said.

The Port of Oakland and City of Oakland spend tens of millions each year on large construction and engineering projects. Altogether, the Bay Area's local governments and transit agencies spend billions each year upgrading roads, bridges, rail lines, and other infrastructure.

Oakland's boycott of companies bidding on the Trump border wall still needs to be voted on by the full city council.


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