Tempe City Council fails to pass border wall resolution

Seven hundred miles of a physical man-made border between the U.S. and Mexico already exists. The Trump administration is proposing a thousand-mile wall with additional obstacles. (Photo by Lerman Montoya/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – The Tempe City Council failed to adopt a resolution opposing the proposed construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The resolution failed to pass by a 3-4 vote Thursday evening. If approved, it would have allowed Mayor Mark Mitchell and the City Council to send a letter to President Donald Trump and Congress expressing their concerns about what a border wall would represent for the region.

Their letter would have asked Trump and Congress to fund infrastructure, housing, health care and education needs instead of the construction of a physical wall and the expansion of existing barriers.
Other communities in Arizona, including Flagstaff and Tucson, have passed similar resolutions communicating their concerns about the cost to the environment and tribal land rights.

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, which opposes a border wall, began campaigning for the resolutions, hoping to get city councils across Arizona to pass them and send a message to the Trump administration about their concerns.

“Two thirds of Arizonans oppose Trump’s border wall. It’s a shame some Tempe City Council members have decided to ignore them,” said Laiken Jordahl, a representative for the center.
Council member Ryan Keating, who voted in favor of the resolution, said the final vote does not reflect the attitudes of many Tempe residents.

“I believe most Tempeans do not want a border wall,” Keating said, “and they rightfully expect their leaders to speak out against backward ideas like it.”

Border Patrol apprehensions are at a historic low but signs cautioning hikers and campers at Organ Pipe National Monument are scatterred throughout the rocky landscape. (Photo by Lerman Montoya/Cronkite News)

Council member Kolby Granville voted against the resolution, saying he has been against it from the beginning.
“This resolution is divisive and forces our residents to take sides in city council government,” Granville said. “We need to focus on nonpartisan issues.”

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell echoed Granville’s sentiments.

“Since I began my service to the city of Tempe in 2000, I haven’t been in favor of these types of nonbinding resolutions dealing with nonlocal issues,” he said. “I think that when we use the power of the vote, we should be voting on items that are within the municipal business of the city and that would have a binding effect on our communities as far as future councils.”

The resolution noted that the border is as secure as it has ever been, and that apprehensions of undocumented immigrants and drug smugglers are registering at historically low numbers.

“The council had an opportunity to join dozens of other cities and take a courageous stand against this environmental and humanitarian disaster,” Jordhal said. “Instead we have a watered-down letter to the president, who will never see it.”