Newsom issues moratorium on city travel to Arizona

City officials are trying to punish Arizona economically over the state's tough new law against illegal immigration.
April 27, 2010 6:40:41 PM PDT
San Francisco's boycott against Arizona is getting new momentum, as well as new scrutiny. City officials are trying to punish Arizona economically over the state's tough new law against illegal immigration.

On Tuesday afternoon,San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced an immediate moratorium on city employee travel to Arizona -- one of the actions called for in a resolution a San Francisco supervisor introduced.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos came to America as an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala when he was a boy. So like thousands of others protesting Arizona's new law, the issue is very personal to him and he wants to send that state a strong message.

"Basically telling Arizona there are consequences when you do something like this and hurting them in the pocketbook, because our experience has been that's when state agencies respond," he said.

The supervisors' resolution urges the city, if there is no significant cost involved and no legal conflict, to refrain from entering into new contracts to buy goods or services from companies based in Arizona, to review existing contracts and to avoid city funded travel to the state.

It calls for major sporting events like the All-Star Game to boycott Arizona, for San Francisco residents to do the same and for private companies in the city to avoid doing business there.

But the owner of an insurance firm in the city's Sunset District says he and other small business owners he knows won't join the boycott.

"This is kind of a tough economy and even if it weren't, I'm not going to stop doing business with my clients in Arizona," business owner Scott Hauge said.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera supports the resolution, and lawyers in his office have begun reviewing city contracts and preparing to join potential lawsuits against Arizona.

Newsom calls the neighboring state's new law un-American, but is concerned about the supervisor's measure, saying not enough analysis has been done.

"There is a practical reality, there is a difference from doing sanctions with Burma, that may have one or two businesses that are indirectly involved in the life of your city," he said. "In this case, it's a state just a stone's throw away and who knows the relationship in terms of business to business operations or city to government operations."

ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson believes the city would open itself up to lawsuits.

"One thing for sure, if this boycott is enacted into law, there's only going to be one segment of the San Francisco economy that's stimulated and that's the legal profession," he said.

The supervisors could vote on the resolution as early as next week, and Newsom is now asking the city controller, purchaser and others to develop recommendations for what he calls a smart boycott.

Newsom's Democratic rival for lieutenant governor has also weighed in. Los Angeles councilwoman Janice Hahn introduced a resolution calling for her city to sever all business ties with companies based in Arizona.

The threatened boycott of Arizona may extend across California.

Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, sent a letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger. He's asking for the governor's help reviewing, and possibly breaking, all state contracts with Arizona.

"Any state that maintains a policy that officially discriminates against people because of their skin color, because of where they are from. We must take strong action," he said.

In a statement, the governor's office wrote it needed, "to determine how this idea would affect our budget and job-creation efforts. The governor does not support the Arizona law but the only real solution is for the federal government to produce a comprehensive immigration policy for the entire country."

In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration may challenge the Arizona law in court and at a town hall event in Iowa, the president issued a plea to the Republicans in Congress to work with the Democrats on an immigration solution.


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