City Hall

Council Approves Arizona Boycott

By Erica C. Barnett May 17, 2010

Surprising exactly no one, the city council voted this afternoon 7-0 to boycott the state of Arizona in response to its law making it a crime to fail to carry immigration documents at all times and give the police the ability to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally—obvious code for racial profiling.

As council member Sally Clark noted today, the resolution, which bars the city from doing businesses with companies in Arizona and strongly encourages city officials and staff to avoid traveling to the state, won't have much immediate impact on Seattle. "We do a limited amount of business with the state of Arizona," Clark said. But, she added, it does "send a message to the federal government" that the city opposes racial profiling.The comments for and against the resolution came out pretty much as you'd expect, with supporters of the proposal saying it sent a message that the city wouldn't stand for racism and opponents—there were a few—saying that the "illegals" were threatening property rights at the border. The wackiest testimony in opposition to the bill came from one Craig Keller, who apparently has filed an initiative that would require electronic verification of a person's immigration status before he or she could get government services, a license, or a public or private job. "

"What you’re trying to do here is grandstand in support of a comprehensive amnesty that’s being pushed—and there are coordinated efforts to push it," Keller said.

The resolution only applies to new contracts, not existing ones. Clark's staff estimates that only a little over $1 million in so-called "blanket" contracts—discretionary contracts that allow city departments to choose a contractor from a list of approved companies—will be impacted by the new rule. Clark's office did not have a list of "direct contracts" between the city and Arizona-based companies, but said that Taser might be among them. Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura had planned to attend a conference in Arizona later this month but canceled when she found out about the city's proposed policy.
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