I almost visited Arizona once.
I was in Nevada, visiting the Hoover Dam which crosses the border between Nevada and Arizona and took a photo next to the Arizona state sign.
But I didn't cross the line. I already suspected that Arizona was groundzero for wingnuts, thanks to the decision of Arizona U.S. senator, Republican John McCain, to choose then Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election.
At least, Democrat Janet Napolitano was still governor of Arizona at the time, and so was able to veto similar attempts to pass racist immigration laws in the state of
But now Republican Jan Brewer, a former Maricopa County supervisor, is governor of Arizona and has signed Arizona's SB 1070, I think I'll follow San Francisco city Attorney Dennis Herrera's advice and implement a sweeping boycott of all things Arizona.
Citing San Francisco's "moral leadership against such past injustices as South African apartheid, the exploitation of migrant farm workers, the economic oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland, and discrimination against the LGBT community," Herrera offered the services of his office's contracts, government litigation and investigations teams to work closely with city departments and commissions to identify applicable contracts and to aggressively pursue termination wherever legally tenable.
"Arizona's controversial new law makes it a state-level crime for someone to be in the country illegally, and even criminalizes the failure to carry immigration documents at all times by lawful foreign residents," Herrera's April 26 press release observed. "It additionally imposes a requirement for police officers to question those they suspect may be in the United States illegally. Civil libertarians have sharply criticized the law for being an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against all Latinos, regardless of their citizenship. It has also been rebuked by the nation's law enforcement community, with the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, San Jose Police Chief Robert Davis, reiterating his organization's 2006 policy statement that requiring local police to enforce immigration laws "would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities."
"Arizona has charted an ominous legal course that puts extremist politics before public safety, and betrays our most deeply-held American values," said Herrera, who is the son of an immigrant from Latin America. "Just as it did two decades ago when it refused to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Arizona has again chosen to isolate itself from the rest of the nation. Our most appropriate response is to assure that their isolation is tangible rather than merely symbolic. San Francisco should lead the way in adopting and aggressively pursuing a sweeping boycott of Arizona and Arizona-based businesses until this unjust law is repealed or invalidated. My office is fully committed to work with San Francisco city departments and commissions to identify all applicable contracts, and to pursue termination wherever possible. And my office stands ready to assist in any legal challenges in whatever way it can."
Meanwhile, Napolitano, who is serving as Obama's Department of Homeland Security Secretary, joined Obama in calling Arizona's new immigration law "misguided."
Appearing on ABC News, Napolitano said of the bill: "That one is a misguided law. It's not a good law enforcement law. It's not a good law in any number of reasons."
She also warned that Arizona's law could get other states trying to pass similar legislation, which could create a patchwork of immigration rules, instead of an an overall federal immigration system.
"This affects everybody, and I actually view it now as a security issue," Napolitano said. "We need to know who's in the country. And we need to know, for those who are in the country illegally, there needs to be a period under which they are given the opportunity to register so we get their biometrics, we get their criminal history and we know who they are. They pay a fine. They learn English. They get right with the law."
Here on the streets of San Francisco, immigrant advocates are asking folks to march on May Day in solidarity with the immigrant communities of Arizona.
"In 2006, the immigrant community took to the streets in huge numbers," a press release from the May 1st coalition stated. "Millions of undocumented working people and their families sought a pathway to legalization and to a life without fear of work-place raids or middle-of-the night deportations that tear families apart. In 2010, conditions have only worsened as hate crimes have increased exponentially; intolerance has been legitimized by the rhetoric of the Tea Party; and governments (like Arizona) have instituted harsh policing and employment practices that terrorize our communities. The federal government has failed to solve the crisis of undocumented workers in this country. In San Francisco, thousands of workers face losing their jobs because of a flawed employment verification process. Our children are deported without due process and now we must fear the codification of racial bigotry in Arizona. State and federal governments have ineffectively solved the budget crisis on the backs of the lowest paid workers. We march in solidarity with Arizona’s immigrants; immigrants everywhere; and the hard-working people of San Francisco who’ve unfairly endured the burden of this economic crisis.
The May 1st Coalition invites the community to join them for an April 28 poster-making party at 10 a.m, City College Mission Campus at 1125 Valencia Street in preparation for a May Day march at which Olga Miranda, President of SEIU Local 87, Jane Kim, SFUSD school board president, and Pablo Rodriguez, city college faculty, will speak.
My favorite comment on this unfunny situation comes from Daily Kos contributing editor and Las Vegas resident Jed Lewison.
"What do you call a bunch of people who not only don't see anything wrong with Arizona's new hate law, but blame federal inaction on immigration reform for "forcing" Arizona to enact the law while simultaneously trying to block federal immigration reform legislation?" Lewison asks. "You call them conservatives."