Crossing over - Page 3

Arizona law changing the political dynamics on immigration, in SF and across the country

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Thousands poured into the streets on May 1 to march for federal immigration reform
PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

San Francisco political consultant Bob Brigham circulated an online petition urging California's state pension fund to divest from Arizona. "I started thinking about the State of California's role in helping end apartheid by pulling money out of South Africa," Brigham said in an online statement. "Then I knew the move."

The reaction to SB 1070 turned out to be a litmus test on leadership in San Francisco. Herrera, whose father is from Colombia, and Campos, who was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. as an undocumented youth, separately called for a boycott of Arizona within days of the law's approval.

But Newsom, in what turned out to be a major political miscalculation, waffled, first questioning the wisdom of a boycott, then scrambling to take baby steps when his opponent in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, Los Angeles City Council member Janice Hahn, authored a boycott resolution.

"The notion of boycotting a state and every business that does business in the state is an extraordinarily complicated matter," Newsom said in an April 27 San Francisco Chronicle article.

That was the day Hahn held a press conference calling for L.A. to cut off all business ties with Arizona.

Seven L.A. City Council members and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed the measure — and Hahn was invited to be a keynote speaker at a May 1 immigration rally in downtown L.A.

Newsom swiftly sought to save face, issuing a press release shortly after Hahn's announcement stating that he had hatched a "smart, effective" response to the Arizona legislation: the mayor was immediately banning official city travel to the state, with exceptions for essential travel related to law enforcement and public health or safety.

Mayoral spokesperson Tony Winnicker told the Guardian that he did not have information on how much the city travels to Arizona. "Travel has been cut significantly, of course, because of the city budget situation. But Henry Alvarez from the Housing Authority did cancel a trip to Scottsdale set for this weekend for a housing authority conference," Winnicker said.

Deputy Controller Monique Zmuda estimated that when it came to the annual number of official trips to Arizona, "I would doubt that it would be more than just a handful." San Francisco has made payments to 81 companies headquartered in Arizona since 2007, totally roughly $16 million, according to a list compiled by the city purchaser.

But it was the message that seemed to matter more than the actual impact on Arizona, at least for the politicians involved.

Newsom also announced plans to assemble a working group to analyze the impact of potential boycott measures against Arizona. The working group includes city Purchaser Naomi Kelly, Controller Ben Rosenfield, Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Theresa Sparks of the Human Rights Commission, representatives from the City Attorney's Office, the mayor's Director of State and Federal Legislative Affairs Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez, and Newsom's Latino Community liaison Joaquin Torres.

"The purpose of the workgroup is to develop boycott recommendations that are smart and effective and that won't hurt SF businesses and residents or hurt those who are the victims in Arizona of this terrible law," Winnicker said.

City Attorney Matt Dorsey took offense at the implication that Herrera's boycott call was premature or motivated by his own mayoral ambitions. "Dennis was thinking about doing this as early as April 23 because of the outrageousness of the legislation," Dorsey said.

Michael Trujillo, Hahn's campaign manager, faulted Newsom's waffling. "If Arizona legalizes slavery, is he going to form a working group?" Trujillo asked. "It wasn't a question of whether [Hahn] would do it or not do it. In L.A., it's a no-brainer. In San Francisco, it requires a working group."

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