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Boycotting Arizona over immigration law unlikely to find widespread support in California

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

While California faces a harrowing budget crisis, one State senator is set to see that California is the first state to boycott Arizona over its strict immigration law.  In a bill authored by State Sen. Gil Cedillo and endorsed by 40 lawmakers, the legislation would amount to an official state level boycott. 

Other states have merely passed resolutions against the law, the AP reports, but Cedillo's bill significantly raises the stakes.  According to the AP, Cedillo’s bill includes an anti-Arizona travel advisory, pulling Sacramento investment in Arizona, and encouraging Major League Baseball to pull its 2011 All-Star Game from the state. 

While the boycott is intended to hurt Arizona, pulling investments might actually end up hurting the California economy in the long run, something California cannot afford in the current economic climate.  The boycott, according to L.A. Weekly, would constitute “a Southwest discord since California and Arizona fought over Colorado River water rights in the 1920s.” 

It is not certain if Californians will heed the travel advisory, an uncertainty made evident by a split in support for the law based on recent polls.  In addition, that Major League Baseball will pull the All-Star game from the Grand Canyon is also uncertain at this time.  For the latter to happen, what’s more likely to influence a decision is pressure from the player’s union in the MLB. 

Cedillo's role in crafting SCR113 is not all that surprising.  He is chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. At one point, he sparred with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.  Schwarzenegger vetoed Cedillo’s bill.

While the California legislature is on course to institute the boycott, support from California cities is split on the Arizona law, drawing lines in the sand.  Rural cities in the state are taking a pro-Arizona position, while urban cities are choosing to condemn it. 

Rural areas, like Lake Elsinore and Hemet, lean Republican, while urban cities such as  Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento lean heavily Democratic.  Los Angeles continues its practice of a selective boycott, with the city only considering boycotts of Arizona contracts not harming the economic interests of Los Angeles.  Included in contracts that Los Angeles is not willing to disrupt involve energy supply from Arizona and a contract based on operating red light traffic cameras.  The red light program, after all, brings in wads of revenue for the cash-strapped Los Angeles. 

A recent review by the Los Angeles Times found “local agencies with camera systems generated nearly $1.6 million in revenue, with an even larger portion of the red-light camera fines going to a combination of state and judicial programs.”

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