LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County on Tuesday became the latest government body to boycott Arizona to protest the state’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration.
After a heated debate, the county’s board of supervisors voted 3-2 to ban new contracts with Arizona-based companies and review those that could be canceled. The county has more than $26 million in contracts with Arizona companies this year.
Several California cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, have passed similar measures.
The Arizona law, set to go into effect July 29, requires police enforcing another law to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.
Supervisor Gloria Molina said the law “goes too far.”
“I am sworn as an L.A. County supervisor to uphold the Constitution. All I can say is that I believe that Arizona’s law is unconstitutional,” she said.
U.S. Justice Department officials have drafted a legal challenge asserting that Arizona’s law is unconstitutional because it intrudes on the federal government’s authority to guard the nation’s borders. President Barack Obama, a critic of the law, is planning to meet Thursday with Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer, a White House official said Tuesday.
Critics of the law also say it unfairly targets Hispanics and could lead to racial profiling. Proponents insist racial profiling will not be tolerated.
Dozens of people spoke on both sides of the issue Tuesday, trying to sway Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was the last to announce his position and finally voted yes.
“We need solutions, not boycotts,” said Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who voted against the motion along with Supervisor Don Knabe.
The boycott also calls the county’s pension fund to rid itself of any investments in Arizona’s state and municipal bonds. The county does have investments that would be affected by the boycott, said the county’s treasurer, Mark Saladino.
The Los Angeles Unified School District also voted Tuesday to condemn the law and explore ways of curtailing district-sponsored employee travel, economic support of Arizona and companies based there.
The resolution also calls for civics and history classes to include a discussion of the Arizona law “in the context of unity, diversity and equal protection for all.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found that about three-fourths of voters in the U.S. think boycotting Arizona because of its immigration law is a bad idea. The national survey of 1,914 registered voters also found that most support the law itself, with 51 percent of voters approving of the measure and 31 percent disapproving.
The poll, conducted May 19-24, had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.