Economic fallout continues over the new immigration law in Arizona, while legal challenges threaten to stall the law before it is even implemented.
Adding to the smattering of national figures calling for boycotts against Arizona – started by San Francisco and St. Paul, Minn. leaders – is the Denver Public School District, which has prohibited employees from taking work-related trips here. It is unclear how many trips they actually take, however. Some are petitioning Major League Baseball to move next year's all-star game out of Phoenix.
University of Arizona President Robert Shelton circulated a memo Thursday saying that ‘a number’ of honor students have told the Tucson-based school that they will be changing their plans and attending universities in other states because of worries about racial profiling.
Opponents are already lining up to challenge the law. The Arizona Republic reports that three lawsuits have been filed in federal court, including two on behalf of Arizona police officers. One of the officers says in the suit that there's no racially neutral way for officers to determine the immigration status of an individual – a reasonable assertion.
Opponents claim that police will be forced to check immigration status of anyone they come in lawful contact with – not just in criminal cases, but during traffic stops and ordinance enforcement (barking dogs, loud parties). Lawmakers in favor of the bill insist the wording doesn’t authorize police to randomly raid jobsites and ask for proof of citizenship. But perhaps to preempt the impending lawsuits, the Arizona House made several modifications to the bill Thursday. According to the Arizona Republic , lawmakers removed the word ‘solely’ from a sentence stating that officers “may not solely consider race, color or national origin’ in establishing suspicion that someone is an illegal. They also changed “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest”. The Senate still has to approve the changes before they are sent up to the Governor for approval.
Arizona’s construction community has been largely on the sidelines of this current round of immigration debate, not surprising considering the depressed labor market. As more groups and businesses join the growing boycott of Arizona and Arizona-based businesses, I worry that the strongest impact to our industry will be the stifling of commercial development, which is already on life support. It’s no wonder that one of the law’s most vocal opponents is Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. He’s likely afraid that his city’s new $1-billion conference center and downtown hotel will sit empty as a result of this law.
But even opponents of the law can’t deny the frustration that led to its passage. Year after year the federal government fails to address the immigration problem. Meanwhile, Phoenix is on the verge of becoming the kidnapping capital of the world . We rank second, just behind Mexico City. It’s outrageous that one of the most prosperous cities in the nation ranks ahead of some of the most dangerous places in the world – Beirut, Karachi, Baghdad – in kidnappings. And it’s mostly as a result of the rampant human, weapons and drug trafficking between Mexico and Arizona.
Unfortunately, this new law will likely only deter law-abiding, legal immigrants from travelling to Arizona, and will leave those who are already breaking the law un-phased.
The irony is that this is the exact same argument many Arizona lawmakers (including the ones behind the new immigration law) use to dismiss gun control -- saying gun laws only affect law-abiding citizens while the criminals continue to circumvent them.