Arizona boycotted over 'Nazi' purge of migrants

The already fractious dispute over Arizona's tough new immigration law entered the realm of Punch and Judy yesterday as politicians exchanged soundbites over news that Los Angeles is to pursue an economic boycott of the state, in protest at its crackdown on undocumented workers.

Members of LA's city council compared 21st-century Phoenix to Adolf Hitler's Berlin as they voted, by a margin of 13-1, to suspend official travel to Arizona. The resolution, which passed on Tuesday, will also result in the cancellation of all the authority's future business deals with private companies based there. Existing commercial relationships may also be scrapped.

Los Angeles becomes the largest city yet to join the growing boycott. It has a total of $52m (£35m) of contracts with firms there, though only roughly $8m will be immediately affected.

Arizona has been in the firing line since last month, when its Republican Governor, Jan Brewer, signed a law requiring police to stop and question anyone they "reasonably suspect" of having entered the country illegally. If that person is unable to produce satisfactory identification papers, they will be arrested and held until their immigration status can be confirmed.

Critics of the law, which takes effect in July, say it will lead to racial profiling of Arizona's Hispanic community, who make up 30 per cent of its 6.5 million citizens but almost all of its estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants. Police will start harassing citizens who happen to look like they might have come from south of the border, they complain.

"Under the new law, as an American, I cannot go to Arizona without a passport," said Ed Reyes, a Latino member of LA council, who backed the boycott. "If I come across an officer who's having a bad day and feels that the picture on my ID is not me, I can be deported, no questions asked. That is not American."

At one point during Tuesday's debate, a councilman described the boycott as a necessary response to the most racist piece of legislation passed in America since the government sent citizens of Japanese ancestry to internment camps during the Second World War. That may be stretching things a bit, but it's nonetheless in keeping with the tone of a debate which is starting to assume totemic importance as Barack Obama prepares to deliver on his pledge to overhaul immigration laws and give some of the country's estimated 12 million illegal residents a path to citizenship.

Already, tens of thousands of people in cities across the US have joined protests against Arizona's measure, while Boston, Oakland, New York and San Diego councils this week passed resolutions promising to examine how to cut commercial ties with the state. San Francisco has already banned employee travel there.

Governor Brewer, who faces a tough re-election battle in November, has expressed bemusement at all the fuss. "What is this outcry?" she wondered yesterday. "Why do they want to damage the people that are here that are fighting to obey the laws? What is the motive? Boycotting in the name of illegal activity... where in our country has that ever taken place?"

Yet while a majority of voters currently agree with her, there is concern at the impact any boycott will have on Arizona's tourist economy. Hotels have reported a steady trickle of cancellations of private visits and business conferences since the affair erupted.

Many locals still remember a long and ugly dispute that followed the state's decision not to observe Martin Luther King day during the 1980s, which eventually saw plans for Phoenix to host the Superbowl – an event worth hundreds of millions of dollars to any major city's local economy – cancelled.

For the time being, though, the fuss appears to be shifting Ms Brewer rightwards. This week, she signed a bill prohibiting the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona schools, on the ground that it "promotes resentment" by students from minority communities towards their white counterparts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect