- The Washington Times - Monday, May 3, 2010

Not everyone is down on Arizona.

While leading immigration rights groups have staged protests and called for boycotting Arizona businesses over the state’s new immigration law, some outside groups are coming to the state’s defense and organizing countermoves to buy Arizona goods and keep travel and tourism in the state humming.

Numbers USA, which favors lower immigration numbers, said Friday it is asking its 960,000 members and other workers to urge their employers not to cancel conferences or smaller meetings in Arizona, whose economy depends largely upon tourism and business travel to its many resorts and natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon.

Separately, the U.S. Travel Association also came out against a boycott of Arizona goods and services because of the immigration law.

“It is inappropriate to punish the men and women of our industry who have done no harm to others,” said Roger Dow, the nonprofit group’s president and chief executive officer. “The situation in Arizona further highlights the need for federal action on immigration reform.”

Numbers USA President Roy Beck said his group has a cross-section of members “from liberal environmentalists to tea partiers,” and a mission to show each faction that everybody will benefit from less immigration.

“Our members really disagree with each other on a lot of stuff,” he said. “But without reducing the number of immigrants, you cannot reduces this country’s carbon footprint nor can you shrink government.”

Tourism is the No. 2 industry in Arizona behind microelectronics, said Kiva Couchon, spokeswoman for the state tourism office. She pointed out that tourism generates $18.5 billion and attracts 37.4 million people annually, according to the most-recent numbers.

The groups support for Arizona follows calls to boycotts since Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed the state Senate legislation into law April 24.

The law — considered the most stringent in the U.S. — makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires state law enforcement officials to question people about their immigration status during lawful contact if they have suspicion they are in the country illegally.

The law is scheduled to take effect in August but faces possible legal challenges, including possibly by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. who has said the Obama administration is considering going to court over the issue.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome has imposed an immediate moratorium on city employee traveling to Arizona for official business.

Among the biggest and most recent calls for a boycott is the one by Rep. Jose E. Serrano, New York Democrat, who plans to ask Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star game out of Phoenix, which would cost the state millions in lost revenue.

“This anti-immigrant law is unjust, wrong-headed, mean-spirited, and unconstitutional,” he said. “MLB has a very loud megaphone and their rejection of Arizona’s action would be an important demonstration to Arizona that we do not tolerate such displays of intolerance in our nation.”

Mr. Beck said another part of his group’s help-Arizona plan is to target those calling for the boycotts, but perhaps not in this case.

“We don’t want to punish New York,” he said. “But we will demand the All-Star game goes as planned.”

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