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Violent crime has been steadily decreasing in Arizona, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to AZ’s Governor, Jan Brewer—or GOP superstar, Sarah Palin, speechify about the need for the state’s new “papers-please” immigration law.
Indeed, top Arizona officials, including Governor Jan Brewer, convened an emergency “huddle” late last week, to try to figure out how to cope with the state’s $10 million in lost business resulting from the controversial law, SB 1070. Initial reports suggest that Arizona businesses are at risk of losing a total $90 million if the law is not repealed in a timely fashion.
According to Debbie Johnson, CEO of the Arizona Tourism Alliance and the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, the rest of the country won’t return Arizona’s phone calls:
To date, dozens of cities and groups have announced boycotts. Arizona has lost at least 30 to 40 meetings and conventions, she said. […]
“We’re hearing from our sales people in the hotels and resorts, that people aren’t returning their calls anymore – that they don’t even want to talk to Arizonans,” she said.
Tourism officials huddled for nearly two hours in Brewer’s offices at the state Capitol on Thursday, discussing early strategies and devising ways to push the rebrand out to the public. They offered no time frame for fixing the problem but acknowledged this will have to be a long-term effort.
Instead of approaching the controversy as a simple exercise in “rebranding,” however, business leaders in Arizona would do well to question why they are working to actively alienate whole swaths of the U.S. population, who no longer feel comfortable stepping foot in their state. With everyone from major cities (read: LA) to major civil rights organizations calling for the country to stop doing business with Arizona, it is time for a more substantive approach to immigration policy in Arizona.
Honest businesses across the state should now step up to tell their leaders it’s time to deal with the issues at the heart of immigration reform, not simply to score cheap political points by flogging the issue with absurd laws like SB 1070, written by the likes of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).