OAKLAND — Oakland City Council members voted 7-0 Tuesday to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based businesses, joining a growing movement against the state after it passed a far-reaching anti-illegal immigration law.
The law, signed April 23 by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, gives police broad powers to detain people they suspect of being in the country illegally. Though some changes have already been made to it, opponents say the law still will lead to racial profiling and harassment of members of the Hispanic community and other minority groups.
"How do you know if someone is illegal?" said City Council President Jane Brunner (North Oakland). "They can't answer that question in Arizona. Is it when someone's in a coffee shop? Is it when they're walking their child to school? Is it when they're standing on the corner waiting for work?"
The Oakland boycott, with some exceptions, urges city officials not to enter contracts with or purchase goods from companies with headquarters in Arizona, calls on city staffers to review existing contracts with Arizona companies, and aims to keep city employees from traveling to Arizona on official business.
"This can't just be words," Brunner said. "We have to say, 'What are our connections to Arizona? What businesses are we working with?' "
Brunner sponsored the resolution along with Councilmembers Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) and Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale). De La Fuente was absent
Tuesday but spoke strongly against the Arizona law last week.
The law has reignited the immigration debate across the country. Supporters argue it is a warranted reaction in the face of a failed federal immigration policy that leaves states to deal with the burdens of illegal immigration. Opponents say it turns back the clock decades on civil rights advancements.
Locally, a group of UC Berkeley students started a hunger strike this week, calling on UC President Mark Yudof and UC chancellors to denounce the law. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom halted city travel to the state with exceptions for law enforcement, public health and safety. Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors also have called for a boycott.
Some Bay Area business groups, including the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, suggested the boycotts are not the right way to deal with anger over Arizona's law. The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce stayed neutral Tuesday, and the Oakland resolution was approved without opposition inside council chambers.
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