Immigration Back as an Election Issue — LA Edition

Last month, when the Santa Ana City Council passed a resolution criticizing Arizona’s new immigration law, mayoral candidate Alfredo Amezcua called the response tame.

He urged an immediate boycott of all business with Arizona-based firms in response to the law that, among other things, allows police officers to demand verification of a person’s immigration.

Amezcua’s proposal went nowhere on a majority Latino council that governs a majority Latino city. In fact, Carlos Bustamante — the council’s sole Republican — abstained from a portion of the resolution that was passed.

But the idea certainly has traction up the road in Los Angeles. There, city council members this week voted 13-1 to bar any future contracts with businesses from Arizona as well as any official visits.

LA Council members compared the Arizona law with the start of the Holocaust in Germany and the U.S. internment of Japanese families during World War II.

The LA council action demonstrated, yet again, the strength of the passions surrounding the immigration issue. It also shows how complicated boycotts can be.

While there was talk of canceling $58 million in contracts with Arizona-based city vendors, city lawyers apparently reminded folks about the implications of terminating contracts early.

Port and airport officials were particularly concerned about such policies noting that it could have direct impacts. For example, Los Angeles International Airport relies on $22 million in revenue from two Arizona-based airlines – U.S. Airways and Mesa Air.

LA Council members still asked both agencies to review their contracts and decided on barring any future city deals.

From a political perspective, it is interesting to consider the steps taken in LA — which is about half Latino — to those not taken in Santa Ana, which is about 80 percent Latino.