CITY HALL — Santa Monica could become the latest city to boycott Arizona over that state’s tough new immigration law that critics say will lead to racial profiling.
The City Council on Tuesday will consider joining San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco by passing a measure in protest of the law, which makes state law enforcement agencies responsible for checking immigration papers if they have “reasonable suspicion” someone they stop is in the country illegally. The law was revised to prohibit police from using race as a basis for stopping people, but critics have said the change will have no practical effect.
Santa Monica Councilman Terry O’Day, who placed the item on the agenda, wants to ban official travel to Arizona and wants businesses in the state to be out of the running for future City Hall contracts.
And the proposal isn’t just for show, he said.
An international company under contract with the Big Blue Bus called Trapeze Group has an operation near Phoenix and had been the front runner for a new contract to provide digital message boards at bus stops that would carry information for riders including live arrival times, O’Day said.
If the boycott passes, that contract — worth about $2 million, according to O’Day — would be in doubt. The council had been expected to approve the deal next month.
O’Day said the decision Tuesday night will likely come down to whether a boycott that directly impacts a small number of businesses is an effective way to advocate for political change.
“That’s a real question we’re going to discuss. Does a boycott properly target the individuals who brought about the change you’re trying to affect?” he said. “I think that’s really going to be the nature of the debate on Tuesday.”
When the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 this month to boycott Arizona companies until the state’s immigration law is repealed, officials said the move was likely to affect $7 million to $8 million in contracts. The city has contracts worth about $52 million with Arizona companies, but it was considered impractical to cancel the bulk of the deals, officials said.
O’Day said the boycott he’s proposing would not be “unnecessarily costly to the city or disruptive of its process.”
The proposal already has an additional supporter in Councilman Kevin McKeown.
“Los Angeles and San Francisco stepped up long before we had a chance to, so our action as a much smaller city will be more symbolic than effective, but I’ll support it,” he said of the proposal last week.