Mayor Villaraigosa backs councilmembers' motion to boycott Arizona

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AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, at podium, joins civic, religious and community leaders during a news conference at City Hall on Thursday, April 29, 2010 in Los Angeles to express their concerns about Arizona's new immigration law, and their participation in the upcoming May 1 Immigration reform march. Villaraigosa expressed his support for a proposal by two Los Angeles City Council members that calls for an economic boycott to protest Arizona's new immigration law.

Two Los Angeles City Council members were joined by the mayor in calling for Los Angeles to institute an economic boycott of Arizona in response to a new law targeting illegal immigrants in that state.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa conceded that Los Angeles has some close ties to Arizona, but he said it was important for the city to make a statement against a law he considers to be un-American.

"The Arizona law is not only misguided, it is unpatriotic and unconstitutional,'' Villaraigosa said at a City Hall news conference. "It requires all law enforcement officers to stop anyone suspected of being in our country illegally. It allows law enforcement to make arrests without a warrant.''

Council members Ed Reyes and Janice Hahn introduced a motion Tuesday calling on the city to institute a boycott in response to the law -- SB 1070.

LA City Councilmembers introduce motion to boycott Arizona from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

Villaraigosa said, "I add my voice in strongly opposing this unpatriotic and un-American law, and I call upon our federal leaders to pass comprehensive immigration reform in its place.''

He expressed support for the Kennedy-McCain comprehensive immigration proposal, which calls for providing a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants believed to be in the country, while also strengthening border enforcement.

"Laws that unite us have made us great. Laws that speak to our better angels have made us great,'' Villaraigosa added. "Laws that divide us on the head of a pin, that polarize us in the way that this (Arizona law) would, that make us suspects by virtue of the color of your skin ... goes well beyond the pale.''

Villaraigosa called on Angelenos to join Saturday's May Day immigration rally in downtown Los Angeles to show solidarity against the Arizona law. He urged participants to wear white shirts and wave the American flag.

When Reyes proposed the economic boycott on Tuesday, he explained, "It's important that the second-largest city in the country respond to a legislative act that, in essence, promotes persecution and racial profiling of a group of people that make up a large number of this country's citizenry.''

The resolution calls for the city to "refrain from conducting business with the state of Arizona including participating in any conventions or other business that requires city resources, unless SB 1070 is repealed.''

The resolution must go through the council's Information Technology and Government Affairs Committee before reaching the full council.

If the resolution is passed, Reyes said the city's budgetary and legislative analysts will be directed to assess the city's investments and other business activities in Arizona, which has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law on Friday, but it is not scheduled to take effect until late July or early August.

It states that law enforcement officers can arrest a person without a warrant if they have "probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.''

It also allows law enforcement officers to check whether a person has documents to show whether he or she is in the county legally. If such documents are not provided, the individual could be jailed for up to six months and fined at least $500. Those arrested would then be turned over to federal immigration officials.

Villaraigosa noted that a boycott can be effective -- pointing to the various boycotts that were imposed against Arizona beginning in 1987 when then-Gov. Evan Mecham rescinded a state holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Arizona voters in 1990 rejected a ballot measure to create an MLK holiday.

The move led to the cancellation of various conventions in Arizona and even prompted the National Football League to move the 1993 Super Bowl out of Tempe, Ariz. The game was instead played in Pasadena.

Arizona voters eventually approved an MLK holiday in 1992.

Immigrant rights activist condemns Arizona law from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

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