Arizona's Immigration Law Sparks Controversy, Boycotts

Groups Pull Out in Protest of New Immigration Policy

At least 23 events scheduled to take place in Arizona had been canceled as of mid-May, following the April 23 passage of SB 1070, the state law that requires state and local police to determine the immigration status of those who have been arrested or detained.

Among the groups that have pulled their meetings and conventions are the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Association of Black Accountants and the Inter­national Communications Association. At press time, eight U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, had banned municipal employees from traveling to Arizona for business.

The controversial law sparked two calls for boycotts of the state: one from Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and the other from the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

As part of NCLR's boycott -- which the group said will remain in effect until SB 1070 is repealed, overturned by the courts and/or superseded by comprehensive federal immigration legislation -- the council called for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona, a request echoed by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

Meanwhile, representa­tives of Arizona's hospitality and meetings community,  both individually and under the auspices of the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, have urged planners to keep their business in the state. The city of Phoenix alone stands to lose an estimated $90 million in revenues from cancellations.

A spokesperson for the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau told M&C, "SB 1070 wasn't crafted to have a negative affect on tourism, nor was our industry involved in its development, but we are definitely concerned that its recent passage will result in unintended, damaging consequences."

Several national groups, including ASAE, Destination Marketing Association In­ternational and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have voiced support for tourism in the state. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, called for an end to all Arizona boycotts and urged Washington policymakers to address the complex issue of immigration.

In a show of support, the American Hotel & Lodging Association will hold its annual Summer Summit in Scottsdale this month as planned.