The motion, brought by Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky (this photo shows Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe, Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Zev Yaroslavsky) not only calls for a boycott of Country business travel - but also calls for divestiture of all County investments, in effect treating Arizona like South Africa in the days of apartheid. The motion, which also keeps the ban in place until SB 1070 is suspended or repealed, reads in part:
"There is no question that our national immigration system is broken, and that individuals and communities throughout the nation are struggling to deal with the Federal government's failure to enact and enforce a fair and workable immigration law. But a broken system does not justify a break with our most cherished Constitutional laws and principles--principles that specifically prohibit singling out identifiable groups of people for harassment, intimidation and potential arrest solely on the basis of the color of their skin, race, ethnicity, speech or cultural attributes. Unfortunately, this is what Arizona's recently-passed SB 1070, as amended, will do.
Arizona's SB 1070 simply goes too far and should be strongly condemned and universally rejected. It sends a strong message to all immigrants to avoid contact with any law enforcement officer, aggressively discouraging witnesses and victims from reporting crimes, and making the entire community less safe.
Also, it diverts scarce resources away from law enforcement. It deters individuals from seeking and obtaining needed emergency and medical care, including services to screen and treat communicable diseases.
As stewards of the resources generated by all of our residents, it is the prerogative of this Board to direct our County resources, business practices and investments in ways that do not directly or indirectly provide practical support for this law."
The vote directs the Chief Executive Officer to immediately take several actions, including: send a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Arizona leadership "calling for the indefinite suspension or immediate repeal of this legislation;" suspend all County business travel to the state, unless it would harm County interests, adding that the ban will only be lifted with the suspension or repeal of SB 1070; review with the Treasurer and Tax Collector all County investments in Arizona securities such as State or municipal bonds "and, to the extent practicable and in accordance with their fiduciary duties, adopt policies of divestment and future non-investment in such Arizona securities."
The Board directed the CEO and County Counsel to figure out how to terminate all existing contracts with Arizona-based or headquartered companies" and report back in two weeks. The auditor-controller told the LA Times that the "county has spent about $122 million over the past five years on Arizona goods and services. Treasurer-Tax Collector Mark Saladino said the county had no commercial paper or investments that would be affected by the boycott."
In a statement last week, Supervisor Mike Anotonvich called the proposed boycott "irresponsible," saying:
"A divestment and a boycott is a disingenuous show of perceived political correctness that will only backfire and will shoot us in the heart -- not in the foot. The fiscal impact of terminating contracts with Arizona would harm our already fragile economic condition of this county and add to our double-digit unemployment rolls.
Arizona supplies Los Angeles County with water and energy as well as jobs and opportunities to our residents who work in those businesses and institutions visited by Arizona residents."
In a press release distributed last Friday, Antonovich provided figures from the Department of Public Social Services showing that "in April 2010, $52 million in welfare benefits ($22 million CalWORKs + $30 million in Food Stamps) were issued to parents who reside in the United States illegally and collect benefits for their native-born children in Los Angeles County. This amounts to approximately 23% of all CalWORKs and Food Stamp issuances in the County. In 2009, CalWORKs and Food Stamp issuances to illegals totaled nearly $570 million."
"When you add this to $540 million for public safety and nearly $500 million for healthcare, the total cost for illegal immigrants to County taxpayers far exceeds $1 billion a year - not including the hundreds of millions of dollars for education."
(In his May 15 budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for the elimination of the CalWorks Program) In his proposed budget released May 25, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez keeps CalWorks intact.)
While Antonovich focused on the fiscal impact of illegal immigration, looking for "solutions, not boycotts," most of the heated testimony during the public hearing Tuesday broke down along essentially two lines: a wide spectrum of civil rights and workers advocates who believe the law is unjust and unconstitutional and SB 1070 supporters who identify illegal immigrants with violent LA gangs.
Particularly passionate were family of Jamiel Shaw II, who the LA Times reports was "a football player who was recruited by Stanford and Rutgers before he was gunned down in 2008, allegedly by Pedro Espinoza. A member of the 18th Street gang in the U.S. illegally, prosecutors say, Espinoza had been released from jail a day before the shooting after serving time for an earlier offense."
Molina set the tone for the hearing, which was often interrupted with applause, boos and other disruptions. Molina said:
"This is a motion that's not just symbolic, it is really meant to send a very strong message, a strong message that while we respect and certainly understand Arizona's frustration, this law simply goes too far. Arizona's law has serious and nationwide implications."
Molina said she concurred with LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck that the law, when implemented, will send a message to many in the immigrant community to avoid all contact with law enforcement and "at the end of the day, many in our communities are going to be less safe."
Molina also believes that the new law "will lead to harassment, intimidation and of course, racial profiling....I, as a County Supervisor, have sworn an oath to defend our Constitution and all I can say is I believe Arizona's law is unconstitutional" and directly or indirectly, LA County shouldn't be supporting it.
Lambda Legal Proyecto Igualdad Coordinator Francisco Duenas talked about the impact the law might have on LGBTS. Here is his entire testimony:
Good afternoon and thank you, Members of the Board of Supervisors. I am Francisco Dueñas and I am here representing Lambda Legal, the leading national legal defense organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and people living with HIV.
As LGBT people, we are all too familiar with being on the wrong side of unjust laws, discriminatory law enforcement, and a hostile and ineffective legal system. From our own advocacy work, we know too well that our country's immigration system remains plagued by these problems, and that many LGBT immigrants are forced to inhabit essentially a double closet - afraid of disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and afraid of disclosing that they are undocumented. Arizona's SB 1070 only compounds these dynamics in the worst possible ways.
After being detained and severely beaten by the Mexican police who, while calling him antigay names, threatened to kill him if they ever saw him again, Jorge Soto Vega fled to the United States. Yet, in 2003, Soto Vega's application for asylum was rejected by an immigration judge who said he thought Soto Vega didn't "appear gay" and could keep his sexual orientation hidden if he chose to.
Jorge eventually won asylum, but most LGBT undocumented immigrants do not even know asylum is available based on past antigay persecution and the one-year application deadline bars the asylum door for many. What is more, when immigrants are detained they are often held in remote jails with little or no access to their families or to attorneys and where they are all the more vulnerable to anti-LGBT abuse.
In May 2007, Victoria Arellano, a 23-year-old, HIV positive, transgender immigrant from Mexico, was held in a detention center in San Pedro after being arrested on a minor traffic charge. Victoria, who did not exhibit any HIV symptoms when first detained, died after two months of pleading with officials for basic medical attention.
Binational same-sex couples (including those who are legally married) are also victims of this unjust system because lesbian and gay U.S. citizens are denied the ability to sponsor a foreign-born spouse to immigrate lawfully, as thousands of heterosexual citizens do every year. California is home to the greatest number of these families, with over 36,000 around the country, many of whom are raising children.
Finally, LGBT undocumented immigrants often are deterred from seeking justice after being victims of hate crimes or anti-LGBT discrimination for fear of arrest or deportation.
As a result, injustices are left without remedy and future wrongdoing encouraged.
Arizona's SB 1070 does not even acknowledge - let alone address - these issues. Instead, it only ensures that more binational same-sex couples and their families will be torn apart, that LGBT undocumented immigrants will be pushed further into the closet, and that they will suffer even more abuse.
As a child of once-undocumented immigrants from Mexico, I know first hand the contributions and sacrifices that these families - my family - have made to be a part of this country. My family only could give of themselves fully as Americans once they could come out of that closet of the undocumented. LGBT undocumented families need the same. Our communities, our country, will be the better for it.
Patrick Rooney, radio host and organizer of a non-profit organization geared to Black men, had a different take on the Arizona law:
"I grew up in Alabama on a plantation at a time when laws were against Black Americans, not because we came into the country illegally, but because we were Black. And for anyone to say that what's happening in Arizona is a civil rights issue or racial profiling and to compare that to what we had to go through - is a liar and they'll use the Black Americans in order to get their agenda across. This is not about civil rights.
This is about illegals coming in. Arizona is under siege. ...Illegals are killing Blacks, whites, Hispanics, and others. They don't care about the color."
He went on to say that "godless liberals" don't care about the citizens of Arizona, they only want amnesty to get people to vote for the Democratic Party. "It's more about the vote than it is about the citizens."
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was caught between two opposing forces. But in the end, he voted to boycott Arizona. Here's the statement he issued afterwards:
"I have been a student and devotee of nonviolence for more than 30 years. The most fundamental tenet of nonviolence is non-cooperation with unjust laws and discriminatory practices. One of the time honored tactics of nonviolent direct action is the economic boycott. For this reason, my viewpoint, which has been shaped in large part by my many years of reflection and action in support of civil rights, compels me to support this resolution in an effort to bring an end to what I believe to be an unjust law. I vote aye in the hope that our action will help swiftly bring an end to this civil rights crisis and restore fairness under the law."
During the public hearing, Antonovich said:
"The motion is not a motion against civil rights or against the law and, as one of the speakers said, we're going to be stripping citizenship from citizens. How do you strip a citizenship from a person who is here illegally? They are not considered a citizen. That is not racial discrimination."
To which Molina replied:
"When someone says that this doesn't involved racial profiling, you only need to look at me to know that I am one of those individuals that I'm sure would have a heck of a tough time in Arizona. And I know that that's the way they will enforce the laws, unfortunately."
But, after noting that the Arizona law does nothing to "advance the objective of immigration reform at all," Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky noted that people of color are not the only ones potentially impacted by this new law:
"Since we do not have a national identification card system, and that the only way you can be identified is to prove that you are a citizen is to either have your birth certifiate or if you're a naturalized citizen, to have your naturalization papsers on your person - I dare say that not one of the five members of this Board of Supervisors - if we were approached by a law enforcement officer and asked to prove that we were a citizen - could do so.
The nation that a law enforcement agency would be charged by state law of determining my legal status is very troubling. Its not just a Latino issue. It is not just a person of color issue. It's anybody. It's anybody whose name is Yaroslavsky or Antonovich - not just Molina or...Fujioka. Anybody whose name sounds foreign. Anybody who has an accent. Anybody who somehow conveys the idea that they weren't born here will be ripe for questioning. And I think that's really what's offended the sensibilities of so many people."
Yarsalvsky said the motion had nothing to do with where the County stands on immigration, saying that like so many others, his parents came from "the old country."
"But the notion that I get pulled over in Arizona and he asks for my driver's license and he sees my name and then I have to prove that I'm a citizen? That's nonsense. That's not American.
Upholding the Constitution of the United States is not easy - it's hard. Because it's moments like this when your emails are running 100-1 against or 100 to 3 against - that's when you have to stand up and support the Constitution of the United States.
I hope we never have to implement [the motion]. I hope that before the law goes into effect, that either Arizona will re-assess, reconsider their position, or that a court will strike it down. That's my hope. But if not, this is the way to go."