While many are equating Arizona's new immigration laws to those of China or wringing their hands over Arizonans seen as backward or rednecked, other states see the new law as a tourism opportunity. Florida and New York City are already readying their tourism campaigns, even as opponents of the new law, like U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., say it will mean no Super Bowls, MLB All-Star games, or other major events for the state. (Cancellations of these events occurred in the 1990s when Arizona rejected Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday.)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg released this statement on the new legislation that was signed Friday:
"The Arizona immigration bill signed into law today could have a chilling effect on international business travel, investment, and tourism in that state, as many people from around the world may think twice before visiting Arizona and subjecting themselves to potential run-ins with the police. As a city, New York may well benefit from another state undermining its own international competitiveness - we're happy to have those businesses and tourists come here. But as a country, America will be badly hurt if more states follow Arizona's lead."President Barack Obama has also condemned the new law, which many Arizona politicians chiefly ignored. Even conservative Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has publicly denounced the legislation as "a bad law."
Why such a big deal about a law in Arizona? It's an immigration law, or anti-immigration law depending on who you talk to, with language that makes all undocumented workers or immigrants criminals and allows law enforcement to act as an extension of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. From USA Today:
[The new law would allow] local law enforcement officials to "determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state -- if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S."That essentially means profiling based on a person's ethnic appearance, perhaps speaking Spanish or whatever constitutes reasonable suspicion to a particular officer. (Some critics call this "driving while brown/Latino".)
The new law, the harshest on immigrants in the nation, will certainly have an impact on Arizona's tourism industry. While Gov. Jan Brewer may have signed this bill into law as a way to grandstand politically, it also created division among Arizona's people, visitors, and law enforcement. Time will tell just how much of a detrimental effect the new law will have on the state's tourism coffers.
Photo: No Borders and Binaries