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Civil Rights Groups: We Must Act

 

Washington, DC-Today, leading civil rights and labor organizations gathered at the headquarters of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, to call on people of conscience throughout the nation to join them in boycotting the state of Arizona. The call to boycott was made in protest of Arizona's new law, SB 1070, which essentially sanctions racial profiling as acceptable police practice in dealing with immigration issues. Under a banner that said "Boycott Intolerance," the groups denounced SB 1070 and pledged not to hold major conventions, conferences or other special events involving significant travel to Arizona from out of state, and asked others-including community-based organizations, corporations, unions, churches, student groups, and ordinary citizens-to consider whether their purchases of goods and services might perpetuate the unjust and discriminatory law in Arizona.

"When a law so contrary to our values is passed, we must act decisively. We are calling for a boycott because this law will blow open the door to increased racial profiling, wrongful arrests, and other discrimination," said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía. She also noted that the decision to boycott was not taken lightly since it could affect people in Arizona who are targeted by and/or oppose the law. "However, the law is so extreme, and its proponents appear so immune to an appeal to reason, that nothing short of these extraordinary measures is required," she said.

According to preliminary polling data, the Latino community in Arizona supports the boycott. Arizona-based community organizations in NCLR's Affiliate Network also support the measure.

SB 1070 requires state, county, and municipal employees in Arizona-including law enforcement officers-to ascertain the immigration status of a person if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is unlawfully present in the U.S. The new law also subjects local governments to lawsuits by any citizen who feels that the new law is not being enforced sufficiently.

NCLR was joined by the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), the Center for Community Change (CCC), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (Leadership Conference), and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

As part of the boycott, which will remain in effect until SB 1070 is repealed, overturned by the courts, and/or superseded by comprehensive federal immigration legislation, the organizations agreed to five major steps related to travel and events, including calling for Major League Baseball (MLB) to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona.

Karen Narasaki, President and Executive Director of AAJC, stated that "a bold and unified national response to this pernicious law is critical to expressing our deep and collective opposition. We have consulted our community leaders in Arizona in the fields of business, law, academia, and advocacy, and they have all urged us to take this action. The deep damage to the social fabric of immigrant communities and Arizona as a whole that SB 1070 will cause is undeniable. We need to send a message now to other states considering similarly oppressive laws."

"By issuing an extensive boycott of meetings and conventions in Arizona, we are sending a clear message that working families want serious solutions to our immigration problems-not frivolous policies that undermine public safety, waste millions of taxpayer funds, and imperil our most basic civil rights," said SEIU International Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina. "We cannot remain silent as this bill ravages local Arizona communities and institutionalizes the kind of racial profiling our country left behind years ago; instead we are using our greatest strength to stop the dangers of this bill before it becomes law."

"The Arizona immigration law signed by Governor Brewer is a slap in the face of the freedom that Puerto Ricans have fought and given their lives for," stated Rafael Fantauzzi, NPRC President and CEO. "As a result, one of our members, the Puerto Rican Day Parades Organization, will no longer hold its conference in Arizona next year."

"Arizona's legislation is unworkable, it is unconstitutional, and it undermines our nation's rich immigration heritage," said Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President and Director of the Food Processing, Packing, and Manufacturing Division at UFCW. "The law is a marked retreat from the principles and ideals that make America strong. The UFCW stands in support of Arizona workers, the Constitution of the United States, and meaningful comprehensive immigration reform."

"SB 1070 is the most repugnant and racially offensive anti-immigrant bill to pass in decades," stated LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. "The bill has galvanized communities of color and our allies and will serve as a rallying point for us to come together to fight for justice, dignity, and fairness like never before."

Leading organizations from throughout the country have also raised their voices in solidarity with those opposing this unjust law, including the National Urban League, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, city councils, and many others.

For more information and to watch the event, please visit www.nclr.org/boycott | www.facebook.com/nationalcounciloflaraza | www.myspace.com/nclr2008 | http://twitter.com/nclr.

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