A group of California lawmakers urged the state Wednesday to boycott Arizona over its tough new immigration law, placing the West Coast state on a growing list of government bodies considering an economic protest.
Cities around the country have approved boycotts, but California could be the first state to do so if it adopts the resolution introduced by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles.
The resolution, SCR113, calls on the state to issue a travel advisory, cease state investments in Arizona and urge Major League Baseball to reconsider letting Arizona host the 2011 All-Star Game.
More than 40 lawmakers, all Democrats, have signed the resolution as co-authors. It now goes to a legislative committee for a hearing.
Arizona's law requires law enforcement officers who have stopped a person for a traffic stop or possible legal violation to check citizenship if they believe that person might be in the country illegally. The law goes into effect July 29.
"The Arizona law undermines fundamental civil rights and civil liberties, and poses a special threat to people of color that live in and travel through Arizona," said Cedillo, who is the chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
The nonbinding resolution would not make it illegal to do business with Arizona. Instead, it would urge the state's retirement systems to stop investing in Arizona until the law is repealed.
"We think that in employing your fiduciary duty you would recognize that the economic situation in Arizona is unstable now, with all the economic boycotts that have begun in the country," Cedillo said in an interview.
No state is known to have approved an economic boycott of Arizona, according to Sheri Steisel of the National Conference on State Legislatures. Lawmakers in New York and Illinois have introduced resolutions condemning the Arizona law, but neither called for a boycott, Steisel said.
Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and other cities have already begun boycotts.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who has supported boycotts in the past, has previously expressed reservations about cutting ties with Arizona, saying lawmakers need to be sure that the poorest Arizonans are not hurt.
Asked about this concern, Cedillo said that a boycott could, like others in the past, ultimately lead to civil rights improvements.
In April, Sen. Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg, D-Sacramento, asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to review the state's contracts with Arizona and cancel them if legally possible.
Steinberg spokeswoman Alicia Trost said that the senator has received a partial list of contracts between California and Arizona. Once they have a full list, lawyers will review it to see whether any of the contractors could be replaced by California companies, Trost said.
"The goal would be to bring some of those contracts here to California while also sending a very important message to the state of Arizona," Trost said.