Free School Meals for Everyone | Farmworkers of the World: Unite | Reagan, Trump, and Activist Cities
In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, a law championed by first lady Michelle Obama. Among other provisions, the law offers universal federally subsidized lunch and breakfasts for schools with a significant proportion of low-income students.
Eligible schools must have at least 40 percent of the student body automatically qualify for free lunch because they’re homeless, or in foster care, enrolled in Head Start, or live in households which receive food stamps.
About 21.5 million students in the U.S. receive free or reduced-price school lunch on any given school day. About 12.1 million receive free or reduced-price school breakfasts.
The new program was created to overcome a significant shortcoming in the existing means-tested program. Many students don’t take advantage of the program because of the social stigma attached.
In New York City, for example, 75 percent of public school students are eligible for free or reduced prices but one in three skips lunch.
In 2016, Brooklyn high school senior Aminata Abdouramane explained why in Chalkbeat,
“The free and reduced-price lunch program creates a social class system that is reinforced daily by the school lunch line. Some students get lunch for free, some get it for a reduced price, and some pay the whole cost. Imagine you’re on the lunch line and another student sees you getting free lunch and takes advantage of this.
I’ve seen name-calling, put downs, bullying, labeling. I’ve witnessed a boy getting bullied over getting in line for “free-free.” The bully was yelling over the entire cafeteria, “You got free-free, yo!” Once this happens, you’re immediately an outcast. Everyone knows who you are — and in a very bad way.”
The 2010 law phased in over 4 years. In year 1, three states were eligible to participate: Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan. In Year 2, DC, NY, Ohio and West Virginia were added. Across the first 7 states, 2,312 schools participated. In year 3 Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Massachusetts were added. In year 4 (school year 2014-2015) the program became available nationwide. By that time 14,000 schools were participating. Today the number is over 20,000.
Once schools adopt universal school breakfasts and lunches the social stigma disappears and participation increases. Since Detroit adopted the program daily participation has increased by 22 percent across the district.
Universal school lunches saves parents the time and worry about filling out forms and submitting applications, and it saves the school district money because it no longer has to review individual parental applications. Detroit estimates the administrative savings at close to $200,000 a year.
A 2014 USDA evaluation of the impact of the universal school meal program in the 7 states that adopted the program during its first two pilot years found lunch participation 5.2 percent higher and breakfast participation 9.4 percent higher than when the programs were means-tested.
Another evaluation by the Food Research and Action Center of the early adopters found that lunch participation increased by 13 percent, and that breakfast participation increased by 25 percent.
When Ms. Abdouramane wrote her open letter to New York City school officials they had already brought the universal free school lunch program to New York’s middle schools in 2014. Principals in those middle schools reported that it led to more students eating lunch, and eating more nutritious food, at school and to positive social interactions among students. More kids eating lunch translates into more kids who are better able to concentrate in the classroom.
Nevertheless, it took a multi-year campaign, Lunch 4 Learning, led by students, as well as advocacy by a New York non-profit Community Food Advocate, to ultimately persuade the city.
On September 6th, the day before the start of the new school year, New York City’s school Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that every child enrolled in NYC public schools—1.1 million children, from pre-K through 12th grade—will be able to eat lunch at school for no cost.
Just as the program was empirically proving its value, House Republicans tried to shrink the number of participants. In 2016, the House passed a bill that would have raised the minimum for eligibility from 40 percent of students in poverty to 60 percent. An analysis of the House bill by the Center on Budget and Policy found that upwards of 18,000 schools currently community eligible would become ineligible under the proposed 60 percent standard.
Photo Credit: USDA via Flickr (CC0).
Farmworkers of the World: Unite
Florida produces 90 percent of our winter tomatoes. The Immokalee region in southwestern Florida grows one-third of all U.S. tomatoes.
The plight of farmworkers in the Immokalee area has been publicly known for decades. That plight was featured in Edward R. Murrow’s searing and widely watched 1960 TV documentary, Harvest of Shame. In the 1980s, says Janice Fine, an associate professor of labor relations at Rutgers University told Tracie McMillan of Modern Farmer, “it was the closest thing possible to hell on earth.”
Eve Turow Paul, writing in the Huffington Post in early 2015, brought the story into the 21st century, “More than 1,200 people have been freed from agricultural slavery rings in Florida during the last 10 to 15 years. Workers tell stories of brutal beatings, being shackled in chains at night, no regular pay for work, housing where 20 pickers share one mobile home and are each charged upwards of $200 per month in rent. Yes, per person. No shade in the fields, no breaks for meals, 10 to 12 hour workdays, seven days a week.”
Founded in 1993, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) first targeted tomato growers, but years of marches and strikes convinced them the growers were not going to raise wages or improve working conditions unless buyers of their tomatoes would help cover the cost. The CIW began targeting buyers of tomatoes: grocery stores, restaurants, institutional food service companies.
The workers demand was easy to communicate to the general public: an additional penny a pound for the tomatoes they picked. At the time pickers were earning about 1.5 cents per pound, not much more than they had collected 25 years before. To put that penny in context, we pay $1 to $4 per pound in the grocery store for those tomatoes. An extra penny a pound would cost the average family a paltry 40 cents a year but as McMillan observes, if “the premium went toward wages, workers would, in effect, receive a nearly 80 percent raise.”
The Campaign for Fair Food’s chose as its first target Taco Bell. Student customers immensely aided the campaign. At more than 300 college campuses and 50 high schools they urged people to “Boot the Bell” until the chain responded to the workers demands. At one point 22 colleges banned Taco Bell from operating.
In 2005, after 4 years of picketing, organizing, and demonstrating, the workers finally convinced Taco Bell and its parent company, Yum! Brands, to agree to their a-penny-more demand. Two years later, McDonald’s signed up. In 2008, Burger King, Subway, and Whole Foods Market followed suit. In 2010, the campaign added Aramark and Sodexo, two of the country’s largest institutional food service companies, to its list of partners. In 2012 Chipotle and Trader Joes agreed. In 2014 and 2015 Walmart and Ahold, respectively, agreed to work on behalf of the 30,000 workers in their combined supply chains.
Gaining the buyers’ participation was a necessary, but not sufficient condition for success. Workers still had to win the active partnership of the growers to achieve their demand for dignity and better working conditions. In 2010, the various campaigns, abundant adverse publicity and the increasing numbers of buyers participating, persuaded Florida’s tomato growers to sign on to the Fair Food Program (FFP).
Companies that comply with the Fair Food Program are committed to buy tomatoes only from growers who agree with the CIW Code of Conduct. The code ensures:
- Workers hired directly instead of through contractors.
- Growers pay pickers for time spent waiting for work to begin, and provide clean drinking water and shaded areas.
- Zero tolerance for forced labor, child labor and sexual assault;
- Worker-to-worker education sessions conducted by the CIW on the farms and on company time
- Health and safety committees on every farm to give workers a structured voice in the shape of their work environment;
- Provision of shade in the fields, and the use of time clocks to record and count all compensable hours accurately; and
- Ongoing auditing of the farms by the Fair Food Standards Council to insure compliance with each element of the program.
- A 24/7 complaint hotline, where the Fair Food Standards Council will investigate complaints within 2 days, initiate corrective action plans, and, if necessary, suspend a farm’s Participating Grower status. Among other powers, the FFSC can require growers to fire abusive supervisors
In late 2014 the organization introduced a Fair Food label to inform shoppers in the stores whether their tomatoes have been picked under fair conditions.
The Fair Food Program currently boasts 14 buyer/partners and the Code of Conduct now covers 90 percent of the tomatoes grown in Florida.
There are still holdouts. Wendy’s initial response to the workers successes was to shift its purchase of tomatoes from Florida to Mexico, a country whose abuse of farmworkers was well-documented by the Los Angeles Times. In 2016 the Campaign called for a boycott of Wendy’s. In early 2017 Wendy’s responded by announcing its own “enhanced” supplier code of conduct but refused to pay a penny a pound more or embrace CIW’s worker-supervised code of conduct.
“The Wendy’s code falls squarely within the tradition of corporate social responsibility,” Susan L. Marquis of the RAND corporation observes, “its reasonable set of standards has little chance of being effective since it relies on occasional third-party audits without active monitoring by those in the fields or factories. Also missing are strong penalties for suppliers who do not comply.”
The Fair Food Program spread to cover tomato growers in North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, as well as bell pepper and strawberry pickers in Florida.
In 2017 the campaign broke through into another region and another industry: New England dairy farms.
Vermont’s dairy industry employs about 1,500. A 2014 survey of 170 Vermont dairy workers by Migrant Justice, a non profit organization based in Burlington that provided assistance to dairy workers, found that 40 percent received less than the Vermont minimum wage, 40 percent didn’t have a day off, many didn’t have access to a bathroom or clean water and the frequent changes in their schedules kept them from sleeping more than a few hours at a time. These workers tend to be undocumented, making it difficult for them to speak out.
In late 2014 Migrant Justice launched its Milk with Dignity campaign, patterned on CIW’s strategy.
In June 2015 the group’s effort received a boost when Ben & Jerry’s formally agreed in principle to support the Milk With Dignity program. But negotiations dragged on for two more years.
In October, after more protests and marches Jostein Solheim, the CEO of Ben and Jerry’s, now a subsidiary of Unilever, formally signed the agreement.
“This is the first expansion that we’ve seen from the model of worker-driven social responsibility that was pioneered by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Florida tomato fields,” Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice told Vermont Public Radio.
The agreement covers nearly 90 farms that typically employ up to 10 workers each. Workers at dairy farms that supply Ben & Jerry’s will have the right to one day off a week as well as paid sick days. They will earn at least the state minimum wage, currently $10 an hour. Workers will be guaranteed at least eight consecutive hours of rest between shifts. Their housing accommodations will include a bed and access to electricity and clean running water.
As was the case with tomato picker agreements, compliance will be monitored by the Milk with Dignity Standards Council headed up by a former staff lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project. The Council will conduct audits.
The key to the effectiveness of these agreements is whether the workers are informed about their rights, participate in the monitoring and have a vehicle to defend them. This agreement, like those with the tomato pickers, includes those elements. “It’s an agreement that puts the worker in charge of workers’ rights,” Solheim told the New York Times.
The program will be adopted in stages, with some standards, like prohibitions on sexual assault, forced labor and violence toward workers, taking effect immediately. Others, like raising pay to the minimum wage, will come more gradually. Farms must first go through an orientation, and workers must complete education sessions before Ben & Jerry’s begins making the larger payments that will finance some of the benefits.
The salutary impact of the CIW on Florida tomato pickers has been extraordinary. Some 90 percent of Florida’s tomato farms with a workforce of 30,000 have formally embraced the Code of Conduct. The spread of worker-managed agreements to other crops and other regions and most recently, to milk, provides evidence that the concept may have very broad application. The success of the CIW and its partners is a model and a beacon in these dark times.
Reagan, Trump, and Activist Cities
As Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions threaten to withhold money from cities obstructing their merciless quest to kick more than a million Latinos out of the country, a new report reminds us that activist cities have faced a hostile federal government before.
Reagan vs. Cities: The 20th Century Battle Over South African Apartheid & Lessons For The Trump Era was done by Jobs to Move America, a Los Angeles-based non-profit. The report offers an excellent description of the role of local and state governments in the fight against apartheid in the 1980s. Between 1984 and 1989 over 90 cities, 22 counties, and 26 states passed ordinances or laws addressing companies that did business with South Africa, according to Richard Knight, an African human rights expert,. They took government money out of banks that operated in South Africa and out of portfolios that included companies conducting business there.
In 1986, when Baltimore required the city’s three employee pension funds to divest from companies doing business with South Africa, the funds’ Trustees sued. There was a vigorous debate within the Reagan administration about whether to submit a brief in support of the Trustees. They decided not to, but did provide significant documentation and support.
The Trustees argued, among other things, that the city was unconstitutionally interfering with interstate commerce. In the nation’s first divestment court case, the Maryland Court of Appeals sided with Baltimore. “The Ordinances embody the City’s moral condemnation of racial discrimination,” the Court noted, “In our judgment, the Ordinances’ burden on the interstate sale of securities does not outweigh these unique and profound local concerns.” The U.S. Supreme Court deferred to the Appeals Court.
Reagan’s response to these uppity cities was to threaten to withdraw federal money. Sometimes the threats succeeded. In 1984, for example, the Reagan administration warned New York City that if it withheld contracts from companies doing business with South Africa the Department of Transportation would cut off its funding. New York City backed down.
But many did not. Reagan v. Cities concludes that although Reagan’s threat “very likely discouraged some local sanctions laws, states and localities persisted in the face of this federal threat, adopting or failing to repeal more than 120 local sanctions and divestment measures in all.”
Overall, divestments by U.S. cities, counties and states (and universities) proved an important element in the worldwide movement to end apartheid. Apartheid ended in 1991. In 1994, the year Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, Gregory Gethard observed, “The divestment movement was not the only reason why apartheid ended, but it was definitely a major contributing factor.”
“Pretty much every aspect of the Reagan administration came down as hard as possible on cities, but the cities stood up, and really contributed, as Nelson Mandela once said, to the demise of apartheid,” Madeline Janis, executive director of Jobs to Move America told Brentin Mock of CityLab.
“From 1985 to 1990, over 200 U.S. companies cut all ties with South Africa, resulting in a loss of $1 billion in direct American investment,” Gethard recalls. “South Africa was ravaged by capital flight as businesses, investors and money left the country. The rand, South Africa’s currency, was significantly devalued and inflation reached double digits. The economic situation, as well as the resistance efforts of those suffering under apartheid, meant South Africa’s system had to come to an end.”
For South Africa it was a total victory. For the United States, the victory was much less complete. As Abhilasha Bhola, lead researcher for Jobs to Move America reminds us, “While city actions and grassroots activism were powerful in obtaining short-term victories, the Reagan administration was able to impact how federal funding worked over the long term.”
Here is how that happened. To justify the administration’s threats, Reagan’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) developed a novel interpretation of a section of the Federal Highways Act of 1956. That section, the OLC observed, “…requires the Secretary to withhold approval for contracts for locally administered highway construction projects…unless the contracts are awarded through competitive bidding.” Competitive bidding, the OLC maintained, “comports with Congress’ overriding objective of cost-effectiveness by maximizing the number of contractors who will bid for the contract and increasing the likelihood that the contract will be let for the lowest possible price.” Later OLC made explicit its belief that, “cost-effectiveness be the only criterion by which to award contracts,” and ominously added, “The principle may have much broader application to other federally funded programs…”
Jobs to Move America found little support for OLC’s position that maximizing the number of bidders and achieving the lowest price were the paramount objectives of Congress. “The legislative history of the 1954,1968, and 1982 Federal Aid Highway bills shows that while Congress certainly wanted good value for its investments, it never considered lowest price to be the overriding or most important factor. Instead, Congress sought to create jobs, protect small business, curb corruption, and create fair competition for contractors—as well as secure good prices on highways.”
Nevertheless, OLC’s 1986 interpretation continues to hold sway. As Mock notes, it has thwarted municipal attempts to include progressive criteria in procurement policies, such as local-hire provisions, climate change, and LGBTQ protections.
For example, when Cleveland tried to enforce an ordinance prioritizing jobs to local residents for a U.S. Department of Transportation-funded project in 2003, the Federal Highway Administration withdrew the funds, it stated, because the local hiring criteria hindered competition. A federal court upheld the agency’s right to do so.
In early 2015 the Obama administration tried to undo the damage done by OLCs 1986 interpretation in order to allow localities more autonomy. It issued draft rules and simultaneously launched several pilot projects. In January 2017 the one-year pilot project was extended to 5 years.
Some of the comments on the proposed rule challenged a key assumption of those opposed to preferential local hiring. The Los Angeles County Metro Transportation Authority commented that after a careful historical review of data related to its own local hire policy, “The evidence clearly indicates local geographic preferences and targeted hiring has not limited competition or increased costs.”
A group of construction trade councils around the Bay area explained, “Our experience with local hire requirements in the context of project labor agreements has been positive. The City of San Francisco has a strong local hire ordinance that has been implemented across all public works jobs. Overall, the City reports that mandates at the 20%, 25% and 30% local hire levels have all been consistently exceeded.”
For more than 2 years the local hire rule oh-so-slowly wound its way through the approval process. This August, with the rules still not in effect, Trump quietly killed them. It remains unclear what the fate of the pilot projects will be.
Trump and Sanctuary Cities
The scope of Trump administration’s assertion of federal authority over cities, and states, far exceeds that embraced by Reagan although his strategy—cutting off federal funds—is the same. Trump wants local governments to become an arm of the federal government with their police forces conscripted to aid and abet the deportation of many of their communities’ long-term residents.
In his first few days in office Trump issued an Executive Order, “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants…” Funds will be cut off to “any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers.”
At the end of May, pursuant to the Executive Order, Attorney General Sessions announced, the “Department of Justice will require jurisdictions applying for certain Department grants to certify their compliance with federal law 8 USC 1373, as a condition for receiving an award. Any jurisdiction that fails to certify compliance with section 1373 will be ineligible to receive such awards.”
Here’s how Stateline, a publication of the Pew Charitable Trusts, explains detainers, “When prisoners are booked into local jails, their information is automatically sent to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which checks fingerprints and other details to see whether the prisoner is an unauthorized immigrant wanted for deportation. If so, ICE can ask local authorities to detain the prisoner for up to 48 hours beyond the time they would otherwise have been released to allow ICE agents to take custody. Alternatively ICE can ask local law enforcement agencies to notify it of the prisoner’s release date to facilitate an arrest.”
As the American Immigration Council notes, detainers are only requests. According to the law compliance is voluntary. Moreover, ICE is supposed to have probable cause that the individual is deportable before asking local law enforcement officials to hold them in jails or prisons. The Council also notes that the 48 hour detention period excludes Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The battle between Washington and America’s cities over deportation has been going on for several years. From October 2013 to December 2015, according to Pew, local authorities in 43 states refused to honor more than 16,000 detainer requests from ICE.
With the rise to power of Trump, skirmishes have become an all out, no-holds-barred war taking place on many battlefields. Trump has targeted at least one million people for deportation. The number of ICE requests to local officials asking them to delay the release of jailed immigrants so that they may be deported was up 75 percent this year, according to ICE data
Local taxpayers pay the costs of detaining prisoners beyond their normal release time. The ICE assumes the costs only after taking custody. In 2015, according to the Texas Observer, ICE did not follow up on a remarkable 62 percent of detainers. That year the associated costs for detainers in Texas county jails added up to more than $60 million, according to a report from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
So far, Trump and Sessions take-no-prisoners actions have not fared well in court.
After Trump issued his Executive Order in January, California’s Santa Clara County and San Francisco filed suit, and won. In April a federal judge in Illinois issued a preliminary national injunction to block the implementation of that order. Federal Judge William Orrick ruled that without express authorization from Congress, those funds “cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration-enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves.” Orrick reaffirmed the injunction in October.
In late April the DOJ sent letters to nine jurisdictions (Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, the state of California, Miami-Dade County and Cook County, Illinois), threatening to withhold grant funding unless they prove they were in compliance with federal law by June 30.
Chicago sued and in mid September a federal judge in Illinois also issued a nationwide injunction on the DOJ carrying out its threats. U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber, a Reagan appointee, maintained, “The Executive Branch cannot impose the conditions without Congressional authority…” He said he was applying his order nationally because there was “no reason to think that the legal issues present in this case are restricted to Chicago or that the statutory authority given to the Attorney General would differ in another jurisdiction.”
When the DOJ requested the injunction be narrowed to apply only to Chicago Judge Leinenweber denied the request.
All these court defeats have frustrated and enraged the right. Daniel Horowitz, senior editor of the Conservative Review declared, “The ‘debate’ over sanctuary cities is over, and the Left has won…Unelected federal judges, who had no jurisdiction over immigration for 200 years, are declaring sanctuary cities the law of the land.” His recommendation? “It’s time to end sanctuary cities once and for all. And if that means ignoring the sanctuary courts, then so be it.”
The Justice Department may be following that advice. After the federal judge issued a nationwide injunction in October, the Justice Department issued a press release titled, Justice Department Provides Last Chance for Cities to Show 1373 Compliance. Among the 5 jurisdictions deemed not in compliance was Chicago (along with Cook County, New Orleans, New York City and Philadelphia). They were given until October 27 to justify their actions.
While Trump continues to fight for its right to unilaterally cut off federal funds, his administration is also trying, below the radar and through the back door, to change the law. Buried in the middle (p. 544) of a 1288 page document–the FY 2018 Budget of the U.S. Government–is a change in the wording of Section 1373 that would give Trump the authority to carry out his Executive Order.
Some state legislatures have entered the fray, most prominently California, home to more than one-fifth of the nation’s unauthorized immigrants. In October California enacted possibly the most rigorous law in the nation, making it a crime for local officials to cooperate with the ICE in any way, unless the targeted prisoner had committed one of a delineated list of felonies. California is the first state to limit communication about release dates, although 142 counties have enacted such policies, according to a review by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. California also bars cities and counties from helping ICE by investigating the immigration status of prisoners when they are booked.
Some states — Illinois, Connecticut, Vermont and Oregon — have statewide legislation that limits cooperation on deportation, but stops short of California’s scope. This year 15 states considered sanctuary related bills this year.
On the other side, at least 33 states have some legislation requiring police to cooperate with immigration authorities, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Some states have gone much further. The Washington Post reports on a Texas law under which “officials could lose their jobs, police chiefs could go to jail, and governments could face fines of up to $25,500 a day if they adopt or enforce policies that prevent law enforcement officers from asking about a person’s immigration status or complying with requests to detain immigrants…”
A lawsuit ensued. In June Attorney General Sessions said the administration “fully supports” the Texas law and the Department of Justice will help defend it against a federal court challenge. The DOJ did file a brief in support of Texas shortly thereafter.
At the end of August a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against most provisions of the law, two days before it was to go into effect September 1st. After noting that five of the six largest cities in Texas—Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso—were parties to the suit, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia opined, Their cumulative population exceeds six million people. This is representative of the public opposition to SB 4 and the overwhelming public concern about its detrimental effect.”
If Congress does ratify Trump’s actions, the accelerated deportation program will still have to overcome roadblocks. First of all, federal courts in Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon and Pennsylvania have ruled that forcing individuals to stay in prison without probable cause after they would ordinarily be free to leave violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against illegal search and seizure. In July, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court became the first state court to rule that local police not have the authority, under state law, to hold people in custody based solely on the requests from federal immigration authorities known as civil detainers.
And then there is the strong possibility that a Congressional law would run afoul of the Supreme Court’s anti-commandeering doctrine that forbids the federal government from requiring a state government to take a particular action. The pertinent Supreme Court case, Printz v. United States, was decided in 1997. The question before the Court was whether Congress could commandeer state and local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks and related tasks on prospective handgun purchasers. The Court decided it could not. Delivering the Court’s opinion, Justice Scalia noted, “…it is apparent that the Brady Act purports to direct state law enforcement officers to participate…in the administration of a federally enacted regulatory scheme.” He observed, “the Framers explicitly chose a Constitution that confers upon Congress the power to regulate individuals, not States.”
While cities and states try to protect their residents from Trump’s destructive crusade, Abhilasha Bhola, lead researcher for Jobs to Move America reminds us of the lesson from the anti-apartheid movement. “We can’t forget that even if we’re fighting back, they are still laying the groundwork for longer-term impacts.” “It’s about more than sanctuary cities,” his colleague Janis adds.
Indeed, some cities are looking to adopt policies from the anti-apartheid struggle to combat Trump’s devastating deportation campaign. In March, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said she would introduce legislation barring any company that participates in building the wall from working on contracts with New York and propose a motion for divestment within the city’s largest pension system from companies that work on the wall, Kristin Capps reported in CityLab. If New York were to enact such legislation the Trump Department of Justice would threaten to cut off funds, relying on the Office of Legal Counsel opinion issued for Ronald Reagan.