Some local immigration and social justice organizations on Thursday urged statewide support for what appears to be an expanding national boycott of Arizona, a week after the governor signed a new law making it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally.
Some local immigration and social-justice organizations urged statewide support Thursday for what appears to be an expanding national boycott of Arizona, a week after that state’s governor signed a new law making it a crime to be in Arizona illegally.
The law has sparked division and outrage across the country but also appears to be catching on, with lawmakers in Texas, Utah, Georgia, Ohio and Maryland weighing similar measures.
Set to take effect this summer, the law requires law-enforcement officers, during “everyday encounters,” to question people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally. It also requires immigrants to carry papers, and makes it a crime to hire day laborers off the street.
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While the law is popular with many in the border state of Arizona, immigrant-rights and social-justice groups in that state and across the country have denounced it, saying it will target people of color and those with limited or no English skills.
They say it forces officers to answer the unanswerable: What does an illegal immigrant look like?
The first legal challenges to the law have already been filed and others are planned.
At a news conference in Seattle Thursday, the Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP joined social-justice and immigrant-rights groups in condemning the law, saying Arizona is no model for the U.S.
While Seattle and King County both have ordinances that prohibit law-enforcement and government employees from asking people about their immigration status, advocates say it’s not unthinkable that an Arizona-like measure could gain ground in this state.
James Bible, president of the Seattle/King County NAACP, quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 letter from Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Years from now we will reflect upon this as an embarrassing time in our country,” Bible said.
Shankar Narayan, of the ACLU, said Arizona’s law is not just about those in the country illegally: “It violates basic values, fairness and equality. It’s a dragnet in which U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will be swept up along with undocumented immigrants.”
Still, both Narayan and Bible stopped short of endorsing a boycott, saying such action had not been authorized by their organizations.
Representatives of El Comite, a social-justice group that advocates for immigrants, and Casa Latina, which operates a day labor center in Seattle, were at the news conference and did support a boycott.
The call for a national boycott started in California and urges people to find destinations other than Arizona for their vacations.
A website, arizona-boycott.org, carries a list of companies headquartered in Arizona that the website is urging people to boycott.
City councils in San Francisco and Los Angeles are asking companies there to stop sending employees to business conferences in Arizona, and the city of San Francisco has banned city travel to the state.
In Mexico, the government has warned its citizens against traveling to Arizona, and Aeromexico has canceled several flights into Arizona cities.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, asked on Wednesday whether the city will join in a boycott, said, “People will have to make their personal choices about travel to Arizona. My personal choice is I’m not going to.”
The mayor said he’d like to wait to hear from the public on the matter: “If that’s an issue for people, we’ll hear about it.”
Craig Keller, who is heading up an initiative in Washington state he hopes would encourage illegal immigrants to leave the U.S., calls concern over the Arizona law “much ado about nothing.
“It will come down to how this is all played out,” he said.
Keller’s I-1056 follows a model created by Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri law professor credited with helping to draft the controversial Arizona bill.
It’s the fifth straight year a Washington group has attempted to collect signatures for an initiative that would, among other things, require state and local governments to enforce immigration law and verify people’s immigration status for public benefits and driver’s licenses.
Keller’s group, Respect Washington, needs 241,153 signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November ballot.
Keller said when the federal government doesn’t address illegal immigration in the country, then states like Arizona and Washington have no choice but to do so. “I think it’s terrific what Arizona has finally done.”
Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or firstname.lastname@example.org