Boycotting Arizona

This is not at terrible idea.

A spreading call for an economic boycott of Arizona after its adoption of a tough immigration law that opponents consider racially discriminatory worried business leaders on Monday and angered the governor.

Several immigrant advocates and civil rights groups, joined by members of the San Francisco government, said the state should pay economic consequences for the new law, which gives the police broad power to detain people they reasonably suspect are illegal immigrants and arrest them on state charges if they do not have legal status.

Critics say the law will lead to widespread ethnic and racial profiling and will be used to harass legal residents and Latino citizens.

La Opinión, the nation’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, urged a boycott in an editorial Monday, as did the Rev. Al Sharpton, and calls for such action spread to social media sites. The San Francisco city attorney and members of the Board of Supervisors said they would propose that the city not do business with the state.

They followed the lead of Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, who had urged conventions to skip the state, though other Democrats who oppose the law, including Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix, pleaded for people not to punish the entire state.

Don’t punish the entire state? I understand the argument, but perhaps the state shouldn’t be punishing Latin@s. And perhaps this — combined with a lot of immigrants leaving the state — will help Arizona to see that immigrants aren’t the enemy, and that racially profiling and marginalizing brown people has serious economic consequences.

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40 comments for “Boycotting Arizona

  1. Holy!
    April 27, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Whether or not this law is upheld or passes, the debate over immigration will only intensify.

    First of all, it’s highly unlikely that a consensus will be reached on an immigration bill. If you couple that with the federal government’s inability or unwillingness to control the border, then border states will continue to attempt to take measures into their own hands.

    Secondly, the continuing–and even worsening–jobs situation in America is only more likely to make immigrant groups one of the parties that will face increased hostility. Even worse, if we are in for a permanent restructuring of the American economy–one in which elevated unemployment, especially among the working class– is considered the “new normal,” then watch out; immigration conflicts will be an every day occurence.

    Even worse is the problem below our souther border. For all its natural riches, Mexico is in many ways a failed state. The government cannot, or will not, provide for many of its citizens. Additionally, the Mexican government encourages people to leave; it allows them to funnel out excess population and it allows for money to funnel into the country once those immigrants start sending currency back. These factors make increased immigration to America likely for a very long time.

    Lastly, the spreading of the Mexican Drug Wars, human trafficking, and lawlessness into border states will continue to cause real and hard to dismiss problems. What will the end result of that be? It won’t be good. I can tell you that much.

  2. April 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I don’t think this is a good idea.

    “Don’t punish the entire state? I understand the argument, but perhaps the state shouldn’t be punishing Latin@s.”

    The “state” includes the government and the residents. Yes, the immigration law is embarrassing and disgusting, but an economic boycott will not just harm the government, the ones who implemented the law. The government, in the face of an economic downturn, will be forced to make budget cuts to social programs and education, which directly harms the citizens we are trying to protect.

    This seems so obvious to me, almost too obvious….

  3. April 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I can see both sides of the issue.

    On the one hand, a boycott of the entire state will end up harming a lot of innocents in the state, people who had nothing to do with the immigration law.

    On the other hand, sometimes that’s what it takes to get people to vote elected officials out of office and replace them with ones who will make better choices.

    Boycotts can be very effective tools, but they often include a lot of unfortunate consequences for the little people as well. Don’t like a large corporation? Boycott it? Well, that means it’s going to lay off a lot of its workers… people who had nothing to do with whatever policy the CEOs of the company probably decided… and that policy they may not even agree with but may just enact to please the shareholders, who would be more than happy to replace those CEOs with other CEOs who are willing to bend ethics for the bottom line.

    Same thing with government.

  4. Juniper Elliot
    April 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I agree that punishing the state isn’t really in anyone’s best interest. However, we’re not really holding a metaphoric gun to their heads and telling them to come to our way of thinking — that’s not only undemocratic but also rude. The real goal is to generate attention to the vileness of the immigration law, for which a boycott might actually be effective. It’s like a petition that gives you a papercut.

  5. heather
    April 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    i agree with the general sentiment – the idea of showing the lawmakers of arizona that this won’t be tolerated – but like mollie said, the problem with boycotting the state is that the people who should be punished won’t be. arizona relies heavily on tourism, and if the hospitality industry fails, it’s going to be the people on the lowest rung of that industry who suffer. who makes up the majority of these workers? janitors, maids, food service workers – many of whom are people of color – will lose their jobs. and given arizona’s shoddy economy and lack of tax revenue, there won’t be any other jobs or a safety net for people to fall back on.

    i live in arizona, i’m ashamed of my adopted state, and i believe that a point needs to be made. but i feel like a boycott will just end up hurting the wrong people.

  6. bogusman (an embarrassed Arizonan)
    April 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    I agree with a lot of the comments thus far. A boycott wouldn’t have a strong impact on anyone who’s at fault here (i.e. the lawmakers), it would just hurt Arizonans in general, many of whom are either strongly opposed to this legislation or will already be discriminated against because of it, or both. I feel that as a general rule boycotts should be a tactic taken only after careful consideration, because there tends to be a lot of collateral damage involved that could counteract the entire purpose of the gesture.

  7. RedSonja
    April 27, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I think it’s important for the people who voted these douchecanoes into office to see that electing bigots has consequences. Maybe if there’s enough outcry from their constituents, they’ll repeal this steaming pile of crap before it even gets challenged in court.

  8. April 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    The voters didn’t even put that horrible woman in office. And even the police don’t agree with SB1070. Who exactly are you trying to punish? It’s not going to hurt the legislature. I suppose it’d take revenue away from the three year one cent sales tax increase we’re having a special election to vote on – it’s to fund out worst in the nation education system. I agree with everyone who’s already said that a boycott will only hurt those you’re wanting to help.

  9. April 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    RedSonja, JAN BREWER WAS NOT ELECTED TO THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR. She has the position by default because Obama appointed the previous (and awesome) governor, Janet Napolitano, to the federal position of Secretary of Homeland Security. You want to punish who put her in office? Write Obama an angry letter.

  10. bogusman
    April 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    That’s all well and good as a talking point, RedSonja, but if I had to venture a guess I would say that the vast majority of people who will be hurt by this bill, and those who would be most hurt by a boycott, vote Democrat. It’s also important to remember that the head ‘douchecanoe’ in charge, Governor Brewer, was voted into that position by no one, since Obama selfishly took our awesome governor away from us.

  11. bogusman
    April 27, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    or what Shiyiya said

  12. RobW
    April 28, 2010 at 7:16 am

    I support, and will participate in, a boycott of Arizona tourism.

    I understand full well what it’s like to live in an economy that depends on tourism; I’ve lived much of my life in Florida and Nevada. Both of those states often have complete a-holes running their govt’s but even the worst of them maintain an acute awareness of how their actions will be perceived by the rest of the country. They will not go out of their way to offend a significant percent of the population if even some of that population might spend money there.

    They understand that to keep the tourists coming, don’t piss on large numbers of them.

    And here’s the thing, the only thing they really care about, even more than their racism or nativism, is making money.

    So, Arizonans who appeal to their lawmakers to overturn this on moral grounds will find their complaints utterly and completely rejected. They don’t care what you think. You didn’t, and won’t, vote for them anyway.

    But go to them and demonstrate that their actions are costing you your jobs, your businesses revenue, and your state its tax base, that they’ll listen to. When your employers, their real constituents, complain about the lost business, they’ll be heard.

    But that can only happen with an effective boycott; without one, they have no reason to care about your opposition to the policy. It’s just more liberal whining, as far as they’re concerned.

    In the short term, people will be harmed, no doubt. And that’s bad, I do sympathize. It sucks to live in a state so poorly run; believe me, I get that. It’s why I’m making plans now to leave Nevada. As far as my own state’s screwed up gov’t goes, I’m voting with my feet. As far as Arizona’s concerned, I’m voting with my dollars.

    And anyway, as a non-Arizonan who frequently travels around the northern part of the state for pleasure (because it really is some beautiful country), I’m certainly under no obligation to continue to do so. And it’s completely within my rights to express my extreme disapproval by withholding my spending there. Besides, there’s lots of other places in the Southwest I haven’t seen much of yet. Now, how can I get to Colorado without going through Utah…?

  13. bogusman
    April 28, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I completely sympathize with someone who chooses not to spend their free time and money in AZ. After all, it’s becoming a less and less hospitable place to be, particularly if you’re not white. However, large-scale organizing of economic sanctions against the state in an attempt to effect change seems really misguided and horribly counterproductive.

    It seems to me that people’s counterargument is, let’s kill the AZ economy, thousands of low-income workers get laid off and this maybe inspires them to move to a state with a more progressive immigration policy, and finally the boycott does enough damage to the bigwigs’ bottom line that they go complain to lawmakers and something gets done about it. I guess I’m not buying that.

  14. April 28, 2010 at 8:48 am

    A lot of Arizona tourism goes to Native reservations and tribes. More than 25 percent of Arizona land is reservations, and it has (I think) one of the largest Native populations of any state. Can we not boycott the tourist industry, please? Kthxbye.

  15. RD
    April 28, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Disclosure of conflict of interest: I have family in Arizona.

    But I am also uncomfortable about this boycott, even tho the new law is outrageous and horrible. I think the boycott will punish the wrong people.

  16. Politicalguineapig
    April 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Why are all the beautiful states home to the ugliest-minded people? Arizona’s a lovely state, but it’d be nicer without the legislators.
    While we’re at it, boycott Oklahoma too- although it’d be rather counterproductive, as there are no tourist attractions there.

  17. Nick Kuiper
    April 28, 2010 at 10:47 am

    As a lifelong Arizonan, and as of last Friday I am ashamed to call myself one. I must say I am 100% in favor of the boycott. This legislation is racist and makes us ALL look bad.

  18. Holy!
    April 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

    It’s not just the legislators though. A current Rasmussen Opinion polls shows that the majority of Arizonians support the bill.

  19. RobW
    April 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    It isn’t about mobilizing people who already oppose the law. It’s about mobilizing those who don’t give a damn, and showing those who support it that it will cost them. I wonder just how dependent AZ really is on tourism if they didn’t already realize that. As I mentioned above, the PTB in states that really depend on tourism are intensely aware of their state’s national image and will do anything to continue to present themselves as open and inviting.

    Fifty years ago, boycotts were one of the most successful tactics in ending segregation laws precisely because boycotts caused economic pain to those who were on the fence or apathetic about them, or even sympathetic to them, and in turn put pressure on politicians. And since they, to the politicians, were the ones who counted, the pols listened.

    Cost the bosses money, get the politicians’ attention. Otherwise they will continue to ignore us. They have to; they’ve staked their careers on doing so, it gives them cred to ignore us, to scoff at us and our anger.

    And speaking of costs, I just read elsewhere (I think it was Balloon Juice) that AZ law enforcement is about to request millions in additional federal dollars to train AZ cops on how to best enforce this law. It seems that a majority of Arizonans actually want a police state, and they want the rest of us to pay them to do it. I rather doubt they’ll get it, but it sure seems to me like adding insult to injury, and it makes me that much more pissed at AZ.

    Holy’s link doesn’t surprise me one bit. As long as it’s not costing them personally, not even costing them the public funds to enforce it, the majority will continue to support it. So make it cost them.

  20. RobW
    April 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    chava makes a good point. I wonder if there’s a way I can continue to visit AZ, but only spend money (mostly just gas, food, and lodging anyway) on reservations? Ok, off to google maps…

  21. joytulip
    April 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm
  22. joytulip
    April 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    HTML fail! The refried bean swastika.

  23. RD
    April 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    My partner disagrees with me. She’s all about boycotting the state.

  24. April 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    @ RobW–

    Well, for starters, if you want to visit the Grand Canyon, you can try visiting the Havasupai’s land instead–they sell a limited number of permits to visit per year and could always use the cash.

  25. Juniper Elliot
    April 28, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    American politics: everyone’s hitler

  26. PrettyAmiable
    April 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    A few things: a boycott only harms people as long as it is in effect. That is, should the government realize that this will be harmful to the people, then it is in their best interest to put a halt to this bill before you would feel the effects of this boycott. It’s a threat – it’s how threats work.

    Second, this “However, we’re not really holding a metaphoric gun to their heads and telling them to come to our way of thinking — that’s not only undemocratic but also rude.” – we kind of are, and I don’t know if it matters if people against this law are using undemocratic methods when the bill itself is undemocratic. And rude.

    Also, rude? Really?

  27. RedSonja
    April 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Didn’t the legislature write the bill? Last I checked, they were elected officials, and they’re just as culpable as the governor (and yes, I know she wasn’t elected). Also sixty seven percent of Arizona voters favor the bill , so why shouldn’t they feel a little pressure?

    Is it an ideal solution? No. But I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable vacationing somewhere where my white privilege allows me to feel comfortable when others can’t.

  28. Holy!
    April 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    It’s a threat – it’s how threats work.

    You can’t threaten people into being accepting. It doesn’t work that way.

  29. Lisa A.
    April 28, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I’m surprised to see a couple of people here are blaming Obama for “taking” Janet Napolitano from Arizona. The way I heard it, he offered her a position, and she accepted. If she was concerned about what would happen to the state after she left she could have turned it down, especially since she already had a really good job.

    So, seriously, are your denying her agency in the situation? On a feminist site?

  30. Marksman2000
    April 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Anyone can answer this; it’s an open question for the people who are active on this forum.

    Q) If you could change Federal immigration laws in the United States, how would things function from here on out? What would we do with the people who have entered the country illegally? And how would we deal with the vast amounts of people who are waiting to enter the United States right now?

  31. PrettyAmiable
    April 28, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    “You can’t threaten people into being accepting. It doesn’t work that way.”

    I’m not trying to make people accepting; I’m concerned with outlawing discrimination. Threats happen in politics all the time. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened with abortion and the healthcare bill. You don’t pass this antichoice measure, then NO ONE gets healthcare. I’d like the blue to play this game too and not always have this shit turned on us.

  32. RedSonja
    April 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm


    YES. THIS. I’m less concerned with people’s thoughts than their legally permitted actions.

  33. Holy!
    April 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    If you could change Federal immigration laws in the United States, how would things function from here on out? What would we do with the people who have entered the country illegally? And how would we deal with the vast amounts of people who are waiting to enter the United States right now?

    Have ONE standard. For example, If you make it across the gulf to Florida from Cuba, you get to stay in this country. If you make it from Haiti to Florida, you get sent home.

    You have allot of people who want to come here legally and they can’t. You have many more people who come here illegally, and they get stay; additionally, their children get to become citizens. That’s a broken system.

  34. Tori
    April 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    This hits home for me. I live in Arizona and helped to elect representatives who voted against this bill.

    I respect anyone who feels that boycotting Arizona businesses is the ethical thing to do. There is a part of me that feels that way as well, even if it’s practically something I cannot do.

    And even assuming that 64% of Arizonans support this bill (the poll says “likely voters,” and I’ve still not found anything regarding geographic location of pollees) , that does leave nearly 2 million Arizonans who do not support this bill.

    I know some of these 2 million people: a fair number of them are un- or under- employed already, to the extent that purchasing food is an issue.

    And I will tell you: I’ve written and called elected officials, my own and not my own. I’ve protested and will march again this weekend. I’ve canvassed to get support from other residents. I don’t know what else to do.

    A boycott will cause harm, yes. Even to people undeserving of it. So will SB 1070.

    So it’s one of those situations where it’s hard for me to tell if such a punishment is the best idea. In theory, I think it would help teach a number of Arizonans an important (punitive) lesson. On the other, I am less than enthused about seeing my friends, colleagues, and students living in cardboard boxen (or otherwise suffering economically).

  35. Politicalguineapig
    April 29, 2010 at 12:01 am

    Chava, RobW: If I understand the rules of tribal sovreignity correctly, the tribe is only responsible to the Federal government, right? So any money spent on the reservation would not be going to Arizona’s treasury, as far as I know. Thus, it wouldn’t count in a boycott.

  36. bogusman
    April 29, 2010 at 12:33 am

    @Lisa A.

    I was joking about Obama “stealing” Napolitano from us. I think she was an excellent governor and I’m sure Obama made a smart decision in choosing her to head DHS; I also think Napolitano knew what she was doing when she accepted the offer, and probably felt she could have an even bigger impact at the federal level. Good for her, I can only hope she continues to rise in national politics – she’s great. Still it’s a bit unfortunate to consider now that this current predicament would never have occurred were she still governor.

  37. Sonia
    April 29, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Have ONE standard. For example, If you make it across the gulf to Florida from Cuba, you get to stay in this country. If you make it from Haiti to Florida, you get sent home.

    Back when I was on a student visa in the US and looking to change status to a legal immigrant, ONE standard was precisely the thing that lawmakers (and most americans) seemed to oppose. The maze of rules drove me crazy enough and once I returned back to my home country I found that conditions in US had deteriorated enough, and conditions here had improved enough that I was actually getting a higher pay and better work conditions in India. Some generalities ahead, read at your own risk.

    Immigration in US is deeply divided on racial lines even among the progressives. Hispanics oppose any restriction on immigration from Mexico. But they are often against immigration from other Latin American countries as even Mexico’s laws reflect. African-americans oppose hispanics moving into their neighborhoods. Middle class americans (largely white), support low skilled immigration, you can have maids, nannies and the like, at a bargain, as long as they do not move too close. A large hispanic family moves into the suburb and they’ll want to see if any codes are being violated to harass them. But they will bitterly oppose immigration from H1-B level people citing unemployment and the like. While middle America likes to occasionally go to an Indian restaurant or something like that, they are not so comfortable if a few of those families actually move close to them.

    While the US may make periodic noises about paying attention to the plebes and occasionally even throw them a bone, the laws are always written in consultation with people who fund them (aka industry). This goes for both Democrats and Republicans equally. The laws that industry likes to see for immigrants are that they be allowed to come in but not become citizens but have some hope for becoming a citizen.

    At the immigration on the upper end (H1-B), I saw plenty of people working for amazingly long hours, paid less than what their W-2s were claiming, illegal practices like the employer deducting visa filing fees from the salary and so on. People put up with it in the hope that one day they would have a Green Card and be more free. There is no guarantee the GC will arrive, but it happens often enough that it keeps the hope alive and they continue slaving with no complaints. There is also the L1 visa category which is a lot more abused, but since it doesn’t make the news as much as H1-B relatively few people know about it.

    With H1-B, there is some hope of getting a GC and a citizenship at the end (though relatively few people really wanted a citizenship among those I knew as GC gives you most of the rights of a citizen). With farm workers and the like, there is no hope of that so guest workers in that area are like a farm employer’s wet dream. You get a transient work force that you can use pretty much as you like, and then it gets replaced next year like a new crop.

  38. Marle
    April 29, 2010 at 6:43 am

    My husband and I will be boycotting. I’m sympathetic to everyone who says that this will hurt people who had nothing to do with this law, but we don’t really have a choice as my husband is hispanic and there’s no way we’re going somewhere that has *enshrined into law* that the police can harass and arrest people for “looking illegal”. This law is going to hurt a lot of people, and unfortunately it’s not going to be those who passed it. I hope that they realize that they went wrong and change it, but I’m not holding my breath.

  39. April 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Chances are the amount of money lost because of tourists that boycott Arizona will be made up for by racists and anti-immigrants that decide to visit the state now out of support.

  40. RobW
    April 29, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Excellent article here on the possible real motivation behind this law: it’s racist, but it’s not only racist.

    This is the latest, if least subtle, attempt by the GOP establishment to counteract the long term trend of hispanic voters voting for Dems, or rather, voting at all. Long intimidated away from the polls, lawful voters of hispanic ethnicity are registering in greater numbers every year, and at a rate of 2:1 Democratic.

    Palast’s article sums up the most recent vote suppression efforts by the current governor and her cronies, including the effort to wipe hundreds of thousands of voters from registration rolls and illegally rejecting as many new registration applications, almost all of which had spanish surnames.

    This is about empowering the police, well actually requiring the police, to participate in efforts to prevent hispanic people from voting. So, when they go to the polls in Nov., rather than facing a mere challenge to their lawful registration (onerous as that is), now they can be arrested and detained, at least for as long as it takes to verify their citizenship. Or until the polls close, whichever comes first.

    Remember David Iglesias? He was the GOP voting, Bush-appointed US Attorney who refused to participate in fraudulent, evidence-free voter fraud cases against innocent people, and was among those fired for refusing to politicize his office and abuse his authority. That particular scandal cost the US Attorney General his job. It was the tip of a nasty iceberg; the same players are still there, still playing, still cheating. This is their latest play.

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