At the Major League Baseball All-Star game on July 13, Commissioner Bud Selig was heavily pressured to move next year’s game from Phoenix because of Arizona’s immigration law.
To his credit, Selig refused to accede to the demands, correctly pointing out that neither keeping the game in Phoenix nor moving it would affect Arizona lawmakers.
“We’ll do things when baseball can influence decisions,” Selig wisely told The New York Times. “I’ll say that very clearly. And this situation will be solved in the political process at the appropriate time.”
Good for Bud Selig.
The commissioner understands that this ill-conceived push to “punish” Arizona for enacting a new state immigration law is harming innocent individuals and businesses that were just beginning to see better times after a devastating recession.
That not only makes this boycott unfair but ineffective. As Selig understands, the people behind the immigration legislation aren’t impacted by boycotts. Instead, those who had nothing to do with the law or may even have actively fought its passage now are being hit in the pocketbook.
There are other examples of the unintended and unfair impacts of these boycotts.
A Tucson company that manufactures equipment for the solar industry recently was prohibited from submitting a bid for a project with the Los Angeles Unified School District.
That prohibition came because Los Angeles has banned local governments from conducting business or signing new contracts with Arizona businesses until the immigration law is repealed.
Because of that prohibition, this Tucson business, which is not involved in the immigration debate, could not even compete for a contract that could have been worth up to $4 million. That is not only lost revenue for a local company, but lost tax money for cash-strapped Arizona governments.
I am among many Arizonans who have concerns about this new immigration law. I view it as a divisive distraction from the real issue for my constituents: securing Arizona’s border with Mexico.
But concerns about the law will not be addressed by unfairly targeting innocent businesses and their employees. The harm done to working people in Arizona will not change the law.
According to an economic analysis by the University of Arizona, the “Great Recession” hit Arizona especially hard. From the third quarter of 2007 through the end of 2009, Arizona lost one in every nine jobs. Unemployment topped 9 percent, up from 3.5 percent only two years earlier.
Just within the past few months, Arizona has seen sure signs of recovery. But in many areas of the state’s still-fragile economy, those small gains are being wiped out by calls for boycotts over the state’s immigration law.
State tourism officials recently said spending by overnight visitors to Arizona dropped by 10.2 percent in 2009 from the year before. With calls for a boycott of Arizona, this already dire situation will only get worse.
The Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association said the boycotts are hurting the hourly wage-earners “who work at these hotels and rely on visitors in order for them to have jobs.” A boycott, the association noted, will punish the 200,000 workers in the tourism industry in Arizona who rely on visitors to feed their families.
My fervent hope is that Arizona’s immigration law will serve as a wake-up call to Congress and the administration who for too long have not taken seriously their responsibility to address the crisis on our border.
In the meantime, boycotts are counterproductive and will seriously harm many innocent people. I’ve made this very point in letters to every city and organization that has announced or is considering a boycott.
Bud Selig has set a good example. Arizonans will benefit if more people live up to it.
— U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat, represents Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.