St. Paul strikes back against Arizona immigration bill


Political posturing or effective economic tool?

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today announced a ban on travel by city employees to Arizona. It’s a reaction to the new law in Arizona, requiring people to prove their citizenship on demand.

Here’s the full release:

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman took a stand today, ordering City departments to no longer travel to conferences in the State of Arizona. Coleman issued the order today in solidarity with other cities and organizations in boycotting the State of Arizona in protest of the recent signage of SB1070 by Governor Jan Brewer.

“This law sets a dangerous example for the rest of the country. It will create a culture where racial profiling is acceptable, and will create a dangerous wedge between police officers and the communities they serve. We’ve seen what can be done through partnering with immigrant communities and its effects on issues such as domestic violence rates, violent crime, and overall community safety.

It would be immoral to not stand up in the face of a piece of legislation that is rooted in hate and fear. We are a country of immigrants – and SB 1070 is an affront to our constitution and the values we hold dear as Americans. It’s not worthy of who we are as a people – and it’s certainly not worthy of the investment of any city dollars being spent in Arizona.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like for my grandmother had they passed a similar anti-Irish law. Today I choose to stand with the millions of immigrants in our City and across the country who should have access to the same level of safety and opportunity as everyone else.”

Coleman also noted that he would write to the chairmen of both the DNC and the RNC to encourage them to not choose Phoenix, a contender for their national conventions, in 2012.

How many St. Paul employees travel to Arizona for conventions and conferences? The mayor’s deputy chief of staff says he’s currently researching that, and also any contracts between the city and Arizona businesses.

“It’s a really poor strategy,” Barry Broome, chief executive of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council said. But he wasn’t talking about St. Paul, but about a move by some California lawmakers to bar any state contracts with businesses in Arizona. That would be bad news for Minnesota-based businesses like Target and the Mayo Clinic — two of Arizona’s largest employers.

But Arizona officials clearly are concerned about boycotts nationwide. Sen. John McCain said the state has to “sell” the new law better.

“We have to show any visitors — whether it be for the All-Star Game or someone who wants to go to the Grand Canyon — that we will observe and enforce their civil rights and make sure they don’t feel threatened here,” McCain said today.

The Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association has set up a “Don’t Boycott Arizona” Facebook page. It says a boycott will only hurt hotel and tourism employees.