The spat over Arizona’s new immigration law expanded Tuesday as a state official dared Los Angeles to follow through on its new boycott by agreeing to give up the 25 percent of electricity the city gets from Arizona sources.
In a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce said a boycott war is bad for both sides, and said he would “be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements” to end the electricity flowing to Los Angeles.
“I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands,” Mr. Pierce said. “If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.”
Los Angeles City Council voted overwhelmingly last week to adopt a boycott of Arizona businesses - at least in instances where it wouldn’t impose a significant economic cost to the city.
Arizona’s law requires police to ask for proof of legal residence from anyone they reasonably suspect to be in the country illegally. In most cases, a driver’s license is sufficient to comply, and the law prohibits using race or ethnicity as a reason for suspicion.
Nonetheless, critics say they expect the measure to spark racial profiling.
Civil rights and Hispanic groups have sued to try to block the law, and the Obama administration is reviewing the legislation to see if it violates civil rights laws.
The law goes into effect in July, but already a number of municipalities have condemned or announced boycotts of Arizona. Mr. Villaraigosa said his city’s boycott was intended to hurt the Arizona economy.
Mr. Pierce, the Arizona official, said in his letter to Mr. Villaraigosa that this was a poor path to trod.
“I received your message; please receive mine,” he said.
A message left with the Mr. Villaraigosa’s office was not returned.
But Mr. Villaraigosa offered his own tongue-in-cheek challenge to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon this week in a bet over the NBA playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns.
Mr. Villaraigosa said if Phoenix wins, Los Angeles will have to accept Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fierce opponent of illegal immigration. If the Lakers win, Mr. Villaraigosa said Phoenix will have to accept Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, two Republicans battling for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination in California, where illegal immigration is a major issue.