Group behind 2010 Arizona boycott considers new effort

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(Source: Eugene Tochilin and Jacek Dudzinski via 123RF) (Source: Eugene Tochilin and Jacek Dudzinski via 123RF)

They've protested, rallied and even chained themselves to government buildings this year.

Now one immigration group is willing to take a  different approach to get its message out -- declare an economic war.

"The hateful legislation has again started," said Roberto Reveles, who works with Somos America Coalition. "There will be a boycott."

Reveles and his organization say they are ready to ask people to stay away from Arizona hotels and convention centers unless Gov. Doug Ducey and the GOP-controlled Legislature kill several bills targeting immigrants.

"The last time around it hurt the hospitality industry in a horrible, very damaging way, multimillions of dollars," Reveles said after delivering a letter listing the organization's demands to the governor's office on Wednesday.   

The organization led a similar protest in 2010 after the passage of SB 1070, a tough immigration proposal signed by then-Gov. Jan Brewer.

The boycott cost the state $141 million in lost meeting and convention business, according to one estimate. 

[RELATED: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs first immigration bill]

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato called any boycott "a stunt should be widely and vocally condemned."

"Let me be very clear," he said. "Any discussion of a boycott is election year politics at its worst and these groups should be ashamed of themselves for trying to divide Arizona and destroy our economy."

[RELATED: Protesters speak about chaining themselves together at AZ state capitol]

The Legislature is considering a series of bills that worry the Latino groups, although many of them have stalled.

Ducey has signed one bill that ends a state prison program that releases some convicts subject to deportation after they serve 50 percent of their sentences instead of the normal 85 percent. Those convicts were then turned over to federal officials for deportation.

In a signing letter, the governor said the bill was about holding everyone to the same standard of justice and wasn't about immigration politics.

The other bills cited by Reveles' group include ones that would require illegal immigrants to serve their full sentences and deny them probation, target state funding to cities that issue identification cards to people in the country illegally or don't cooperate with immigration agents and another barring the state from helping relocate some refugees.

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, is sponsoring the bill requiring full sentences and says it aims to prevent criminals from being released early and committing more crimes. It was prompted by the 2015 killing of 21-year-old convenience store clerk Grant Ronnebeck by an immigrant released on bond by immigration officials after a state conviction.

[RELATED: Protesters demonstrate over immigration bills at Arizona capitol]

"The only thing my bill does is say if you are convicted of a felony, whatever penalty that crime carries, you will serve the whole sentence," Smith said Wednesday. "Which to me is fair. You tell me what you tell Grant's family - I'm sorry your son was murdered because it wasn't politically expedient for us to do anything about it?"

The 2010 boycott came after years of legislation targeting immigration. The signing of Senate Bill 1070 by former Gov. Jan Brewer led to huge protests and the boycott.

© 2016 The Associated Press and KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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