Boston councilors OK resolution to boycott Arizona

By Russell Contreras
Associated Press Writer / May 5, 2010

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BOSTON—The Boston City Council approved a resolution Wednesday that urges the city to curtail economic ties with Arizona by pulling investments, ending city contracts and halting purchasing agreements to protest the state's recently passed immigration law.

The resolution, passed by a voice vote, also asks city employees not to travel to Arizona for city business.

"We're asking that the people's money, the people of the city of Boston ... that their money (not) be used to support something like this," said Councilor Felix G. Arroyo, who co-wrote the resolution with City Council President Michael Ross.

Ross, the son of a Holocaust survivor from Poland, said he was compelled to act because he strongly disagreed with Arizona's law, which requires police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. He said various Boston immigrant groups contacted him and asked if there was something they could do from Boston to fight that law.

"We have many issues before us now," said Ross. "But we have to take a moment to speak out against the erosion of basic and fundamental civil rights wherever it occurs."

Ross said once city officials find out what investments Boston has with Arizona and Arizona cities, he might ask for a city ordinance to outlaw those investments.

Councilors said they had received a slew of angry calls from people -- many of them prompted by area talk radio hosts -- who support Arizona's law.

Councilor Ayanna Pressley said some of those e-mails trying to persuade councilors to vote against the resolution were written in "the most harshest and offensive possible language."

"Wanting safe borders does not make you a bigot," Pressley said. "But telling Councilor Arroyo that he should go back to Mexico ... that makes you a bigot."

Arroyo, the son of Puerto Rican-born former City Councilor Felix Arroyo, was born in Boston.

Pressley said she understood complaints that councilors had more important city business to tackle than this resolution. "But we do not live in a bubble," Pressley said. "And what happens in other cities and towns in Massachusetts and, yes, what happens across the country does reverberate in Boston."

Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles are considering similar measures.

Giovanna Negretti, executive director of Oiste?, a Massachusetts group that encourages Latinos to run for office, said city councilors in Springfield and Lawrence -- two cities with large Latino populations -- are preparing resolutions that mirror Boston's proposal.

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