Labor, civil rights groups press for national boycott of Arizona

Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza.
Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza. (Paul Beaty/associated Press)
By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 7, 2010

A coalition of civil rights and labor groups said Thursday that it has organized a national boycott of Arizona in the wake of the state's new law targeting illegal immigrants.

The National Council of La Raza, along with 19 other labor and civil rights groups, will pull money and meetings out of the state and is asking all companies and organizations to move major events and conferences planned there to other venues.

"No conferences. No travel," said Janet Murguía, president of the NCLR, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights group. "We are looking at major events with big visibility, and we're asking all people to consider whether any purchase of goods from the state would further this unjust law."

The law at the center of the debate, S.B. 1070, gives Arizona's police broad power to stop people on suspicion of being in the state illegally. It has also become the newest rallying cry for supporters of a plan to overhaul the immigration system and provide a way for the bulk of the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants to gain legal status.

Supporters of the NCLR have agreed to pull the Puerto Rican Day festival's regional meeting out of Phoenix, and the National Urban League struck the city from a short-list of places to host its 2012 conference. The groups said their ultimate target is Washington, where they hope to turn President Obama's promise to "begin work this year" on immigration policy into action.

At a news conference, Murguía specifically called on Major League Baseball to renege on its promise to hold the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix. League officials would not comment, but Gov. Jan Brewer (R) pushed back in an editorial on

"Boycotts are just more politics and manipulation by out-of-state interests," Brewer said. "As a border state, Arizona has already paid a heavy price for the federal government's failure -- hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in unreimbursed costs -- and its citizens should not be punished further."

According to a tally by the state's hotel and lodging association, 23 meetings scheduled there have been canceled About 30 percent of the league's players are Latino, and civil rights groups are hoping they will help to pressure baseball owners to punish Arizona.

The sting of the last major boycott against Arizona is still fresh: In the early 1990s, the NFL Players Association persuaded the league's owners to pull the 1993 Super Bowl from the state when it failed to approve a holiday in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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