When Arizona passed its immigration law known as SB 1070 last month, calls to boycott the state and protest in front of the state capitol were loud and clear from areas like San Francisco and organizations like the Rainbow Push Coalition.
Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network descended upon Arizona last week protesting the immigration bill, and Phoenix’s basketball team donned jerseys with the name “Los Suns.”
However, polls continue to show that Arizonans and Americans at large continue to support SB 1070, and some Capitol Hill politicians, while critical of Arizona’s immigration bill seem to prefer employing actions other than protests and boycotts.
“That proposal [SB 1070] sometimes makes me remember the tea party people who were out here protesting that we shouldn’t be involved in supporting health care reform. And there were other people out here saying: ‘Why are they the only people out there?’” said Congressional Black Caucus member John Conyers, Michigan Democrat.
“And under these kinds of situations, I’m always careful to be sure we’re not promoting more discord than we are using our first amendment rights to make protests, so I’m a little cautious about us going to Arizona and letting them know what we think about their law,” he said.
Congressman Raul Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, called for a ban on businesses holding conferences in the state as a protest to the law, and cities like San Francisco called for a boycott of the state.
Interestingly, though, former mayor of San Francisco now California Senator Diane Feinstein thinks boycotting Arizona is a bad idea, telling me at a press conference recently, “I do not think that is a smart thing to do. I think the way we handle this is the way it has to be handled, which is a comprehensive bill passed by the federal government, and I don’t think that boycotts or things of that nature really help. They just polarize people.”
At least ten states are looking to at establishing immigration laws similar to that of Arizona. Mr. Conyers did say that the judiciary committee, which he chairs, would be looking at SB 1070’s Constitutionality.
Unfortunately, the rhetoric about SB 1070 regarding issues of racial profiling has reached Capitol Hill. As we talked about the Constitutional issues surrounding the bill, Mr. Conyers seemed unaware that not only does the bill specifically prohibit a law enforcement officer from asking one about one’s legal status based on race or national origin, but SB 1070 was further amended to clear up any vagueness regarding what the term “reasonable suspicion” (for use by a law enforcement officer) actually means.
As November draws closer, expect to see more Democrats looking for other ways to show their displeasure with this immigration law and any others like similar to it that may be passed in the meantime. Still seeking votes in November, Democrats will have a rough time convincing independents to come out for their Party as opposed to 2006 and 2008. Their party will need to fire up some kind of base to get out to the polls to maintain their majorities.