LA County Board of Supervisors considers Arizona boycott over immigration law

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today will consider joining the city in its boycott of Arizona over the state's law targeting illegal immigrants.

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

The motion contends that the Arizona law "violates core American civil rights and civil liberties, including the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expressive activity, the Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and the Equal Protection Clause guarantee of equal protection under the 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.

Board members are divided over the issue, with Supervisors Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich already saying they will oppose the proposed boycott. With Molina and Yaroslavsky sponsoring the motion, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas apparently holds the swing vote, and as of Friday he had not taken a public position on the issue.

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

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.

Knabe said he agrees that the federal 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."

"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," Knabe said. "That is our elected responsibility – not to tell Arizona or any other state how to run their government. I would not want them to tell us how to run Los Angeles County."

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

"As elected officials, we take an oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions," Antonovich said. "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.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on May 12, with Councilman Greig Smith dissenting, to approve an economic boycott of Arizona in hopes of pressuring the state into repealing Senate Bill 1070.

About 30 people staged a protest at City Hall last week, condemning the council for "irresponsibly" approving the boycott.