- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Arizona congressman called for businesses to boycott his own state, and a Catholic cardinal said the state may be encouraging “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” as pushback against Arizona’s proposed crackdown on illegal immigrants went into high gear Tuesday.

The bill, which would make being an illegal immigrant a state offense and would make it illegal to knowingly transport or hide an illegal immigrant, has become the latest hot-button litmus test in the immigration issue, dividing members of Congress already sparring over whether to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has not said whether she will sign the state measure into law, but U.S. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, said businesses should be prepared to retaliate with a boycott if she does.

“Do not do business with the state,” Mr. Grijalva said at a press conference on the Capitol grounds in Washington, adding that a boycott would “give economic consequence to a very bad decision.”

Mr. Grijalva said if Arizona is able to enact the law without facing consequences, other states will follow suit.

But his call for a boycott shocked Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.

“That’s very helpful. An Arizona congressman calling for folks to boycott his home state?” Mr. Kyl said. “That’ll really help job creation. End of comment.”

Mr. Kyl on Monday joined with seatmate Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, to call for Mr. Obama to post 3,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, and both men also said they understand why legislators acted. They pointed to the killing of an Arizona rancher last month and to reports from sheriffs of escalating violence as evidence the border is not secure.

Immigrant rights groups have denounced the bill, saying it will lead to racial profiling and a climate of fear among Hispanics.

In a blog posted Sunday, Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, said if the bill is signed it would become “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law.”

“I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,” he said, wondering if children would have to call the police on their parents.

Rep. Luis V. Guttierez, Illinois Democrat, said if the law is signed then President Obama must assert the primacy of federal law in this area and tell the state it cannot enforce it.

“We need to nationalize bad laws in particular states,” he said. “The president of the United States should simply say, on issues of immigration, the Constitution is clear.”

He said for the same reasons that states can’t issue their own immigration visas, they also should not be able to criminalize illegal immigration. He said Mr. Obama should call the governor and tell her to veto the law, and said the president could deny funds to the state as punishment if the law goes into effect.

An administration official said the White House is reviewing the Arizona bill.