WASHINGTON – The mayor of Phoenix said on Friday that he wants the federal government to act against the new Arizona law that criminalizes undocumented immigrants.
At the same time, however, Phil Gordon argued against the idea of boycotting Arizona to express disapproval of SB1070.
A boycott only increases pressure on the most vulnerable, including immigrants, Gordon, making his third visit to Washington in as many weeks, said at a forum organized by the Center for American Progress.
Municipal officials estimate Phoenix could lose nearly $90 million over the next five years from cancellations of conventions and other events.
Several U.S. cities and organizations have already announced boycotts against the southwestern state, and word came Friday that a group in the border city of Nogales, Mexico, was urging residents to skip their usual weekend shopping excursions to Nogales, Arizona.
Gordon said SB1070 represents both a political mistake and a threat to civil rights.
The law, he said, “won’t secure the border, won’t make the city of Phoenix safe,” instead diverting law enforcement’s attention from its primary task of protecting the public.
The Phoenix mayor called for quick federal intervention, whether in the form of an executive order from President Barack Obama blocking the law’s implementation, or a legal challenge by the Justice Department.
“People are suffering, people are afraid; we don’t know how to apply this law even if it were legal, which it isn’t,” Gordon said.
SB1070, which has drawn criticism from U.S. Hispanic and civil liberties groups and from European and Latin American governments, is set to take effect July 29.
In response to a query from Efe, the Justice Department said Friday that it is still reviewing the Arizona law and cannot say when it will be ready to decide on a possible court challenge.
Pushed through by Republicans in the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, SB1070 requires state and local law enforcement agencies to verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.
Joining Gordon for the CAP forum were Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven, Connecticut, and Arlington County (Virginia) Board Member Walter Tejada.
Both DeStefano and Gordon endorsed the idea of an “immigration summit” at the White House to seek a consensus solution to the problem of illegal immigration.
A poll released Friday by the National Council of La Raza and the Service Employees International Union shows 81 percent of Latino voters in Arizona are opposed to SB1070, while more than 85 percent expect the law will lead to targeting of legal immigrants. EFE