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With the passage of SB 1070 in 2010, Arizona became the first state in the nation to sanction the kind of ugly anti-immigrant politics that states like Alabama and Georgia now also practice. Despite warnings about its racial profiling provisions and the potential for negative impact on the state, the anti-immigrant zealots in Arizona were undaunted, and Governor Jan Brewer proudly signed the bill. Nearly three years later, the ugly law continues to have a negative impact on the state of Arizona, in terms of its image and its economy. The latest example is the convention business in Phoenix, which the Arizona Republic this week notes is still struggling:
Even though convention halls across the country have faced tough times because of the recession and tightening travel budgets, Phoenix officials say concerns over Arizona’s image have exacerbated its troubles.
In a speech to about two dozen event planners from across the country, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton touted the city’s newest assets, including a light-rail system and downtown university campus. But his speech soon shifted to an uneasy topic: Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the state’s much-debated immigration law, and perceptions of the state’s politics.
“What you may have read about our Legislature, don’t hold against the rest of us,” Stanton said, drawing a chuckle from the crowd. “The rest of us, we’re normal. We like diversity.”
SB 1070 is one of several factors affecting convention business, and not everyone agrees it’s to blame for the decline. But those who book meetings for the city-owned center say it has been a slog.
While some of the anti-immigrant legislators try to downplay the consequences, there is actual evidence:
Tracking losses tied to SB 1070 is difficult. But convention and tourism officials say it has been a frequent issue in discussions with prospective convention groups, including several that have said they will not consider Arizona because of the law.
A handful of large, national organizations publicly canceled events at the Phoenix Convention Center in the wake of the law’s passage in 2010, including Alpha Phi Alpha, the National Minority Supplier Development Council and National Council of Teachers of English. The groups cited members’ concerns with the law, including that it would promote discrimination and racial profiling.
Great work undermining Arizona, Jan Brewer! You let your prejudice dictate your state’s policies, and your constituents are paying the price.