Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Fight SB 1070 with ballots, not boycotts

Don’t boycott Arizona. Just as Arizona’s new anti-immigration law is a knee-jerk reaction to the federal government’s failure to do its job, the boycott effort is a knee-jerk reaction to the failure of all those concerned about the civil rights of Hispanics to participate in the democratic process.

Senate Bill 1070 didn’t sneak up on anyone. It wasn’t proposed in the dead of the night and passed the next day without a hearing.

Sen. Russell Pearce dropped the bill on Jan. 13. The bill had more than a half-dozen hearings in the Senate and House. It was amended in the House and sent back to the Senate. It wasn’t sent to the governor until April 19.

All the major mainstream media outlets in the state wrote about the bill during its trip through Legislature. As did the out-of-the-mainstream media including alternative weeklies and numerous blogs on both sides of the issue.

Stephen Lemons, a flame-throwing columnist and blogger for the Phoenix New Times, one of the largest alternative weeklies in the country, practically lost his mind over the bill, writing about it almost weekly for two months trying to rouse the reaction we’re seeing now.

But despite all of the warnings about the bill and what it would do, few people took notice. There were a couple of protests, the largest amassing a whopping 200 people. Most legislative committee hearings attracted but a couple of dozen people, many there to speak in support of it.

Where was Al Sharpton in March when the House was amending the bill, nearly derailing it, and when House Democrats, namely Tucson Rep. Daniel Patterson, were sounding the clarion?

Patterson almost got thrown out of a committee hearing for challenging Pearce – who was a witness before the committee – to back up his claims about illegal immigrant crime. Where was the outrage then? Why didn’t pop star Shakira stand with Patterson then instead of five days after it was signed into law?

Where were the thousands of protestors, the college kids chained to the Capitol doors and the Los Suns jerseys back when the law was being debated?

Where was President Obama when there was still a chance to derail this “misguided” law, as he has since called it?

An economic boycott of Arizona is the wrong way to go about getting Arizonans to repeal or revise this law, mostly because it will hurt the people the boycott is supposedly trying to help – poor Hispanics.

A report by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee last week showed that Hispanics disproportionately bore the brunt of the Great Recession because they were heavily employed in the industries most affected by it.

A boycott will cause the same pain, putting people out of work in the travel and tourism industry and the service sector both of which employ large numbers of Hispanics.

The better solution for those in an uproar about this law is not to withhold their money from Arizona but to pour it into the state in the form of campaign contributions.

The best way to change the law is to change the Legislature. That means getting the mostly moribund Arizona Democratic Party up off the mat so it can field electable candidates who will have more money than just the Clean Elections pittances they rely on now.

And money is needed for media campaigns to educate and persuade Arizonans about other, more reasonable means to combat illegal immigration than SB 1070. A majority of Arizonans support this law. If you can change their minds, you can change the law.

Threatening them with economic ruin is a poor way to go about mind changing. It’s more likely to backfire and stiffen our resolve than cave in to pressure from “outsiders.”

If you want to wage a war over the proper way to combat illegal immigration in this state, fight it where our Founding Fathers meant for such things to be fought – in the polling booth.

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