Democrats Lead Calls to Boycott Arizona Over Immigration Bill


Calls grew across the US today for a boycott of Arizona over its new law giving the police the most draconian powers in the country to deal with illegal immigration.

Democratic members of Congress, religious leaders and leftwing activists urged a boycott of hotels, convention centres and other economic targets in the state. At least one nationwide group has responded by cancelling a convention planned for the autumn. Scores of lorry drivers were reported in the US media to have threatened to stop carrying loads to and from the state.

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The calls are being made spontaneously by individuals and an array of groups, but leftwing activists predict they will soon coalesce into a single campaign.

The bill, signed into law on Friday, gives police the right to stop anyone "if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the US". It has polarised opinion across the US, creating a clear divide between Democrats and Republicans.

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In a sign of the passions aroused, cleaning crews were called to the state legislative building this morning to clear swastikas daubed on it overnight.

Opponents of the legislation say it will lead to victimisation of anyone who looks or sounds Latino. Supporters say the legislation is needed because the state can no longer cope with an estimated 450,000 illegal immigrants.

Among those calling for a sweeping boycott was the San Francisco city attorney, Dennis Herrera, who urged city departments to look at contracts with Arizona that could be terminated.

Herrera said: "Arizona has charted an ominous legal course that puts extremist politics before public safety, and betrays our most deeply held American values."

He noted that a similar boycott 20 years ago, which included the National Football League’s decision to move the Super Bowl from the state, led to Arizona finally dropping its refusal to recognise to Martin Luther King Day.

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April 27, 2010