Communities review Ariz. boycott

May join Boston in protest against immigration law

By Russell Contreras
Associated Press / May 11, 2010

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Four more Massachusetts municipalities are considering resolutions calling for an economic boycott against Arizona in protest of the state’s recently passed immigration law.

Elected officials in Worcester, Lawrence, Springfield, and Amherst say they are drafting measures similar to the one Boston’s City Council passed last week that asks city officials to identify city contracts and purchasing agreements with Arizona and Arizona-based companies and end them immediately.

The Worcester City Council is scheduled to vote today on its resolution. Councilors in Lawrence and Springfield are drafting their measures and a member of the Amherst Town Meeting plans to ask the body to take up the cause.

The Arizona law enacted last month requires police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.

The law has drawn anger and protest from those who say it would lead to racial profiling of Latinos in the state.

Last week, a coalition of national Latino groups called for a boycott of Arizona over the law, and the Phoenix Suns wore their “Los Suns’’ jersey in the Western Conference semifinal matchup against the San Antonio Spurs in protest over the law.

Councilor Frederick Rushton of Worcester said he decided to sponsor a resolution after hearing the “racial overtones’’ of critics angry at Boston’s decision to pass its measure.

“People expressing racial comments is an unfortunate side effect of all of this,’’ Rushton said. “[But] we feel this is racial profiling and it needs to be addressed. We need to take a stand.’’

Rushton compared the efforts to the boycott movement in the 1980s against South Africa under apartheid. “Deinvestment works,’’ he said.

But Sam Rosario, a Worcester activist and talk show host on 830 WCRN-AM, said the Arizona resolutions in Massachusetts are largely symbolic and do nothing to help Latinos who legally reside here.

“Arizona is doing what’s right for Arizona,’’ Rosario said. “Worcester should do what’s right for Worcester.’’

Rosario said it was “hypocritical’’ that city councilors would support the Arizona resolution when they have been resistant to changes to city ordinances that would help livery cab drivers, most of whom are Latino immigrants.

Ken Mandile, president of the Worcester Tea Party, said Tea Party members plan to protest outside of Worcester City Hall and some will try to address councilors before their vote.

“We think this is an abuse of power by the City Council,’’ he said. “This really isn’t their business.’’

Giovanna Negretti, executive director of ¿Oiste?, a Massachusetts group that encourages Latinos to run for office, said supporters of Worcester’s resolution also plan to attend today’s meeting and will support other city councils that seeks to pass a similar resolution against Arizona.

“This is not about resolving what is happening in Arizona,’’ said Negretti. “We have to speak out, or Arizona-like laws could spread like wildfire across the United States.’’

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