LA to vote on Arizona boycott over immigration law

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles was poised Wednesday to become the largest city yet to boycott Arizona over its rigorous new anti-illegal immigration law, joining other cities across the nation that have condemned the restrictions.

The City Council is considering a resolution that would bar the city from conducting business with Arizona unless the law is repealed - a move that likely would affect about $8 million in contracts.

The city has been vague about what the boycott might involve but have acknowledged it would include city travel such as conventions.

The vote comes a day after San Francisco's Board of Supervisors passed a nonbinding boycott.

The proposal in Los Angeles could affect $52 million in investments, including contracts for airport, harbor and trucking services, according to a report by the city's chief legislative analyst. The report recommends the council look into suspending travel, cutting contracts and refraining from making any new ones with Arizona-based companies.

However, it would be impractical to cancel most of those deals, and only about $7 million to $8 million in city contracts probably would be affected, said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who co-authored the resolution with Ed Reyes.

"US Airways is based in Arizona and they certainly fly in and out (of Los Angeles)," Hahn said, saying it would be infeasible to end those flights.

Hahn said the boycott also wouldn't affect the city's Department of Water and Power, which has wind farm and nuclear energy contracts in Arizona. That leaves at least $7.2 million worth of contracts with Arizona companies that coneivably could be terminated. The roughly dozen contracts include helicopter services, Taser guns, waste management, engineering and surveillance equipment.

Hahn said "the best scenario" would be to turn around and give those contracts to California suppliers.

The city attorney is looking at the legal ramifications of the boycott and studying contracts to determine which ones the city can end quickly without being sued, Hahn said.

If approved by the council, the boycott would require approval from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who already has said he supports it.

The resolution claims that Arizona's new law encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional because it requires police enforcing another law to question a person about his or her immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is in the United States illegally. It also makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

Some polls have shown strong popular support for the Arizona law and critics are concerned that other states may follow up with their own versions.

Several cities across California and the country have already passed resolutions or boycotts to protest the law, including Oakland and San Diego.

"We want to stand back and say that we're against it," Hahn said. "We're hoping that Arizona will be the last state to do this instead of just the first state to do it."

"We think it does target only a certain segment of our population who could be here illegally," Hahn said. "We know that they can use things like language, appearance and cultural traits to stop someone."

The city staged a similar economic boycott against South Africa during apartheid and against Colorado after voters in 1992 passed a state law repealing local ordinances that banned discrimination against homosexuals.

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