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Council member Calls for Santa Monica Boycott of Arizona  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

May 21, 2010 -- Following the lead of the Cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, City Council member Terry O’Day wants Santa Monica to boycott Arizona due to the recent passage of an illegal immigration enforcement law.

O’Day said the law, SB 1070, targets Hispanics and that it is important for Santa Monica to “address the issue with the means that we have available.” The law makes it a crime to be in the country illegally and requires police officers to ask for identification if there is a “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant. However, police can only make this inquiry if the person is being stopped for another illegal matter such as a traffic violation.

The Council member said he is bothered by “the enforcement provisions” of the law, which he says “place emphasis on how a person appears and suggest that is an indication of their immigration status.”

Under O’Day’s plan, which appears on Tuesday’s City Council agenda, travel for official City business to Arizona would be prohibited. City staff would be asked to review existing and likely future contracts with businesses and governments in Arizona “to determine the feasibility of obtaining services from companies located elsewhere.”

O’Day said the purpose of this ban would be to force businesses and politicians in Arizona to encourage the State government to overturn the law. He said the City uses Arizona businesses for the Big Blue Bus timing system and a handful of other programs.

National reaction to Arizona’s law has been strong from opponents. They have held many rallies and several Cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have approved bans on doing government business with Arizona or at least made resolutions opposing the law.

Proponents have not been nearly as vocal, although they appear to make up the majority of the nation. A poll taken this month by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press showed 59 percent of Americans favor the law. Also, 73 percent of those polled say they agree with requiring people to show documentation as proof of legal status. O’Day said he is not surprised this support exists.


“It is not unusual that there is support for these types of things throughout history,” O’Day said. “You can look and see that it is almost always an over-reaction and not a smart policy approach.”

He compared this situation to opposition to Irish immigrants in the United States during the mid-19th Century. He noted the Know-Nothing Party grew out of this opposition, and it was a political party that was briefly popular in some portions of the country.

As to whether significant opposition to the Arizona law exists among Santa Monicans, O’Day said he has done some informal polling that reveals it does.

“People are upset about it and say it brings back memories of Prop 187 and other divisive immigration and racial issues that were so powerful 10 years ago In California,” he said.

Proposition 187, which prohibited illegal immigrants’ use of most State-funded programs, was a ballot measure approved by nearly 60 percent of California voters in 1994. A federal judge later ruled it unconstitutional for its supposed infringement on a matter that is within the federal jurisdiction. Then-Gov. Gray Davis dropped the State’s appeal of the ruling in 1999.

When asked about his view on how to do deal with illegal immigration, O’Day said, “That’s a big question. I think there ought to be a pathway to citizenship and I think we should deal with people as people, and offer them civility and respect as we should with all people. I don’t think that’s what the Arizona approach does right now.”

O’Day was appointed to the City Council in February to fill the seat made vacant by the death of Mayor Ken Genser. He must defend his position on the Council in the November election. Although O’Day is an incumbent, a significant advantage in this City’s elections, many political observers say he does will not get the full benefits of incumbency because he was not elected and has only a brief Council record to run on.

When asked whether his upcoming election battle was a factor in bringing this proposal before the Council, O’Day responded, “We’re not the first City to be doing something about this, and especially not in our region. And no matter what the politics are, it’s the wrong thing to do to target the Spanish-speaking population.”


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