draws call for Ariz. boycott
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 24, 2005
A Latino activist riled by
legislation that targets undocumented immigrants wants businesses and
corporations across the nation to boycott Arizona and book their events
Salvador Reza is working with a California-based immigrant rights group
to organize the boycott and hopes to publicize it through Latino
organizations across the country. Without an immigrant workforce, he
says, Arizona's economy would collapse.
"To all the businesspeople that are bringing conventions here, people
that spend money in Arizona, people that bring the golf conventions,
people that vacation here, go to somewhere else," said Reza, who runs
Phoenix's Macehualli Work Center. "Don't come to Arizona. It's a racist
Rep. Russell Pearce, the Republican
sponsor of several immigration bills, called the attempt to bring about a
"Americans ought to be the ones protesting," said Pearce, of Mesa. "Those who
came here legally ought to be protesting. Those whose neighborhoods that have
been destroyed ought to be protesting."
Reza and other Hispanic leaders and residents think that legislation sponsored
by Pearce and other Republican lawmakers could give Arizona a bad image, similar
to what the state suffered in the late 1980s over the lack of a holiday to honor
the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
They point to several specific bills:
• Legislation calling for a vote that could ban Spanish and any other language
other than English from state and local government business. The state House of
Representatives is poised to give final approval to the 2006 ballot measure. If
the English-only proposal also passes the Senate, voters would have the final
say in the November 2006 election.
• Legislation that prohibits cities, towns and counties from building or
maintaining a work center that facilitates the hiring of undocumented
immigrants. House Bill 2592 passed the House and will be considered in the
• Legislation that would ban undocumented immigrants from living in public
housing, taking adult literacy courses and enrolling in college, among other
services. House Bill 2030 is considered a broader version of voter-approved
Proposition 200. It faces a final vote in the House before it goes to the
Reza and other Valley Hispanic leaders today will announce plans to walk 25
miles to oppose the legislation. They expect more than 300 students, day
laborers and Hispanic leaders to walk from Mesa to the state Capitol on April 5
in opposition to the legislation.
"What we hope is that the lawmakers realize that when they implement legislation
that is hurting a segment of the population, they're hurting everyone
economically," said Reza. "If they want to hurt us, they're going to feel the
Tourism is a big business in Valley of the Sun. An estimated 13 million people
visit Phoenix annually, contributing roughly $6 billion to the economy and
affecting 225,000 jobs. State tourism officials declined comment until they know
more about Reza's plan. One local official said a boycott could have a
tremendous effect on the economy.
"It would be disappointing to see something like this happen because it's going
to impact jobs, potentially," said Marc Garcia, vice president of community
affairs at the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Especially when
there are many, many Latinos employed in the hospitality and visitor industry."
Reza's plan recalls a wide and costly economic boycott of Arizona in the late
1980s, after then-Gov. Evan Mecham rescinded a paid holiday honoring King.
During the King Day controversy, Arizona lost an estimated $200 million from 166
convention cancellations and the 1993 Super Bowl was moved. Voters finally
approved a King Day in 1992.