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Coalition Threatens To Revive Arizona Boycott Over Immigration Bills

Jude Joffe-Block
Roberto Reveles and Somos America members announce the possibility of a renewed boycott over immigration legislation.

A pro-immigrant coalition of organizations is threatening to revive an Arizona boycott if pending immigration-related bills become state law, while Arizona’s business groups have condemned the idea of a boycott.

Six years ago the coalition Somos America was involved in calling for a statewide boycott of Arizona in response to SB 1070, Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. Some of the drop in Phoenix convention business in the years after the law passed is attributed to the boycott.

Arizona’s business community urged the state legislature to focus on immigration reform at the federal level, rather than through more state policies.

Somos America leader Roberto Reveles said his group lifted the boycott when the legislature complied.

But this session, lawmakers introduced a number of immigration-related bills, a couple of which could potentially pass and make it to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. One bill would ensure that unauthorized immigrants convicted of certain offenses would face the harshest penalties and be ineligible for bail or probation. Reveles said the possibility of such legislation is spurring his group into action.

“Tuesday night our community partners met in an emergency session and agreed to form a special task force to explore the feasibility of restarting the boycott,” reads a letter from Somos America to Ducey that the group delivered to the office Wednesday.

The coalition is asking for a dialogue with Ducey and legislative leaders.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry put out a statement on behalf of several business groups on Wednesday condemning the idea of a boycott, saying it would only hurt the state’s economy and working people.

“The business community in this state has played a very responsible role to guard against legislation that could harm the state’s image and cause economic problems on its own merits,” said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We don’t need any group coming in and saying let’s boycott Arizona.” 

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.