Arizona Boycott Is Working

I remember when the Arizona anti-immigration legislation was first passed and it created the hottest debate we Latinos have seen on a national basis. The lines were drawn, those who supported the legislation and those that were outraged against it. Everyone, including President Obama weighed in on the debate.

Latino leaders immediately began to organize and find a way to make the state government leaders pay attention to their concerns. Arizona is a state that relies a lot on tourism, thus that became a main target: Boycott Arizona.

Immediately unions, civic organizations, religious groups and even Latino comedians got into the act and pulled themselves away from any conventions, conferences, or performances in Arizona.

I also remember a belligerent Arizona Chief of Police who actually applauded the boycott because as he said, “now we will get an increase in tourism from the people who will be able to come to state that they can feel safe.” Obviously insinuating that undocumented workers from South of the border were mainly responsible for the crime in Arizona.

As ridiculous as that statement was, the fact is that Arizona is indeed suffering from the boycott. Conventions are down, hotels rentals are down and as a result a whole economy that relies on tourism is really hurting. Therefore, I would love to see another interview with that ridiculous Police Chief who was interviewed by so many national news organizations. What would he say now?

I urge everyone that reads this to continue passing the news, “Don’t Let Up On Arizona.” Latino leaders from around the country should continue to keep the pressure and now they should focus on the upcoming Major League Baseball All-Star Game scheduled to take place in July.

The following article in the NY Times will verify that though this is not getting the national attention it was once getting, the fact is that people should know that the Arizona Boycott is working. Por fin una pequeña victoria para la comunidad latina!

New York Times

Arizona Flinches

Published: March 21, 2011

Arizona, the nation’s leader in over-the-top immigration laws, has pulled back. Its Republican-controlled Senate rejected five anti-immigration bills in one day last week. It was a startling rebuke to the Senate president, the architect of the state’s go-it-alone approach to enforcement. Other states weighing similar crackdowns should take note.

The reversal has to do with money, of course. The bills were dead once the state’s business lobby weighed in against them. Sixty chief executives signed a letter to the Legislature saying the harsh immigration measures were having “unintended consequences” — boycotts, lost jobs, canceled contracts, publicity so bad that businesses with Arizona in their names were suffering — even one based in Brooklyn. The chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Glenn Hamer, said the reaction to Arizona’s extremism had already cost the state $15 million to $150 million in lost tourism revenue.

For the record, the new bills sought to end automatic citizenship for illegal immigrants’ newborns. They would have required hospitals and schools to collect records on undocumented patients and students. They would have made it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive and prevented them from going to college.

The bills were the product of one overreaching politician, the Senate president, Russell Pearce, who has made it his mission to rid his state of illegal immigrants by ever-more-aggressive means. He was the sponsor of the one bill that started it all, SB1070, requiring police officers to check papers of anyone they suspected of being unauthorized. That bill last year made Mr. Pearce a national figure, and his success prompted this year’s follow-up flurry. One of the bills, SB1611, was a mashup of 16 enforcement measures he had offered repeatedly in sessions past. It died with the others last week.

While it is a relief to see Arizona realizing that bigotry is bad for business, it is not the end of harsh, shortsighted laws. Other legislatures were already striving to follow Arizona’s model. There is still a federal vacuum on immigration reform that allows state mischief to thrive. And it’s important to note that none of the objections by Arizona’s businesses had anything to do with the strong moral arguments against xenophobic anti-immigration bills.