LA County Supervisor Don Knabe to oppose proposed Arizona boycott

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe said today he will oppose a proposed county boycott of Arizona over that state's recently approved law cracking down on illegal immigration, leaving Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with the deciding vote on the issue.

A spokesman for Ridley-Thomas said, however, the supervisor has not yet indicated how he will vote.

"My boss has not come up with a statement on this yet, and I don't expect anything prior to Tuesday," spokesman Ed Maddox said. "But he could change his mind. As of now we have no statement."

The five-member Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a motion made by Supervisor Gloria Molina and co-sponsored by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky calling for an economic boycott of Arizona over the immigration law.

The law – Senate Bill 1070, which has not yet gone into effect – empowers local law enforcement in Arizona to check the immigration status of suspects they have stopped for other reasons if there is a reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally. It specifically bars police from racial profiling.

The motion by Molina and Yaroslavsky, while conceding that the national immigration system is "broken," contends the Arizona law "goes too far and should be strongly condemned and universally rejected."

"It sends a strong message to all immigrants to avoid contact with any law enforcement officer, aggressively discouraging witnesses and victims from reporting crimes and making the entire community less safe," according to the motion. "Also, it diverts scarce resources away from law enforcement. It deters individuals from seeking and obtaining needed emergency and medical care, including services to screen and treat communicable diseases.

"As stewards of the resources generated by all of our residents, it is the prerogative of this board to direct our county resources, business practices and investments in ways that do not directly or indirectly provide practical support for this law," the motion states.

In a statement, Knabe said he agrees that the immigration system is broken, but said "to simply call for a boycott of an entire state is a rash and misguided reaction to what they view as a bad law."

"Los Angeles County is currently facing tremendous fiscal challenges with our own dysfunctional state government, which we are attempting to work through," Knabe said. "This motion takes away from these efforts, and will distract from what we are elected to do for the residents of this county.

"This motion will not put one more sheriff's deputy or firefighter on the street or keep open one more library, park or health clinic. That is our elected responsibility – not to tell Arizona or any other state how to run their government," he said. "I would not want them to tell us how to run Los Angeles County."

Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, has already called the motion "stupid."

"As elected officials, we take an oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions," said Antonovich. "To boycott a state for enforcing our federal laws is in direct violation of that oath."

The motion would direct the county's chief executive officer to send a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other state leaders calling for the repeal of the law; suspend all travel to the state for county business unless the travel is considered imperative; banning county investments in Arizona securities such as state or municipal bonds; and review all contracts with Arizona-based or headquartered companies and report on how those contracts can be terminated.

It would also prevent county departments from entering into any new or amended contracts to purchase goods or services from any company based or headquartered in Arizona.