Arizona activists threaten new boycott against package of immigration-related bills
Amid proposed legislation that, Latino activists say, discriminates undocumented immigrants and strikes fear in the immigrant community, civil rights groups in Arizona are considering a boycott that would echo that of 2010 against Senate Bill 1070.
The groups, united as the Somos America Coalition, are targeting more than a half-dozen bills that are currently moving through the state’s Legislature.
In a letter to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, the coalition's president Roberto Reveles urged him to pressure the Legislature into killing the bills or to veto them if they reach his desk.
"During the  boycott, Arizona's business community eventually delivered a clear message to the Legislature's leadership to reject any further anti-Latino and anti-immigrant policies," Reveles' letter said.
"Regrettably, the legislature is once again promoting extremist public policy shamelessly aimed at making life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they will self-deport."
Enacting the new legislation would prompt a destructive boycott, Reveles said. A study done six months after the start of the 2010 boycott showed at least $141 million in lost economic activity, although it didn't have a massive impact on the state's economy.
Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato called any boycott "a stunt that should be widely and vocally condemned."
"Let me be very clear," he said. "Any discussion of a boycott is election-year politics at its worst and these groups should be ashamed of themselves for trying to divide Arizona and destroy our economy."
State business groups, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also rejected calls for a renewed boycott. "Boycotts only hurt our economy, negatively impact hardworking Arizonans and divide our citizens," the groups said in a joint statement.
Ducey has signed one bill that ends a state prison program that releases some convicts subject to deportation after they serve 50 percent of their sentences instead of the normal 85 percent. Those convicts were then turned over to federal officials for deportation, but lawmakers were concerned some were being released in the U.S.
In a signing letter, the governor said the bill was about holding everyone to the same standard of justice and wasn't about immigration politics.
The other bills cited by Reveles' group include ones that would require illegal immigrants to serve their full sentences and deny them probation; target state funding to cities that issue identification cards to people in the country illegally or don't cooperate with immigration agents; and another barring the state from helping relocate refugees.