Oakland votes to boycott Arizona

May 5, 2010 12:01:57 AM PDT
The city of Oakland is taking a stand against Arizona's tough new immigration law by voting for a boycott. That means the city will protest the Arizona law by punishing the state economically.

A lot of immigrant rights groups showed up at Tuesday night's city council meeting found themselves preaching to the choir. There were no opposition groups and the resolution to boycott Arizona sailed right on through.

"We have endorsed a boycott of Arizona and Arizona-based companies," said Maria Poblet from Just Cause.

The resolution passed unanimously. It also denounces the Arizona law that allows police to investigate anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.

"I call on members of Congress and the Senate to find a solution to this problem. Part of this problem is people are not able to get legal status in this country," said Poblet.

The bill's sponsor, Councilwoman Jean Quan, pointed out that her own father was an illegal Chinese immigrant with fake documents -- they were known at the time as paper sons.

"The law then did not allow Chinese workers to come here, did not allow them to become naturalized, and forbid them from bringing their wives," said Quan.

A coalition of immigrant rights groups has already posted a boycott list that the city will consider. It includes Pet Smart, Best Western and University of Phoenix, to name a few.

Still, enforcing the boycott could get tricky, especially when dealing with companies like Arizona-based U-Haul that has independent franchise owners here in Oakland.

"Well, certainly it will take effort and that's part of why it's so fortunate that other cities are doing this too," said Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. "And so we have opportunity to step up as part of a broader and growing coalition, which I believe will have the effect of putting the pressure needed."

Oakland is struggling with a $31 million deficit. When ABC7 asked Quan if she was willing to end contracts with Arizona-based companies even if they saved the city money, she essentially said they would cross that bridge when they get there.

San Francisco supervisors also took up the boycott resolution, but sent it back to committee and will pick it up next week.


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