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Senate leader urges California to end state contracts with Arizona if Immigration Law is Enacted


California State Senate President Pro Tem Darryl, April, 2010

Senate leader urges California to end state contracts with Arizona

The Sacramento Bee
Published: Wednesday, Apr. 28, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3ABy Susan Ferriss

California’s state Senate leader on Tuesday urged a possible end to state contracts with Arizona to protest that state’s new immigration law.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Arizona’s law is a “gross civil-rights violation” because it requires local police to demand proof of legal status if officers suspect a person might be an illegal immigrant.

The Sacramento Democrat sent a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requesting collaboration to consider legally breaking contracts until the Arizona law is repealed.

California has prisoners housed in Arizona and energy contracts, among other private and public ties.

“It’s a civil-rights issue whenever you set somebody aside because of the color of their skin or where they come from,” said Steinberg, who is a lawyer. “And that applies to both legal immigrants, citizens and undocumented immigrants. I mean, how do you define reasonable suspicion? There’s only one way under that law. And it’s somebody who looks Mexican. Period.”

Aaron McLear, Schwarzengger’s spokesman, did not rule out the proposal.

“We need to determine how this idea would affect our budget and job-creation efforts,” he said. “The governor does not support the Arizona law, but the only real solution is for the federal government to produce a comprehensive immigration policy for the entire country.”

Schwarzenegger did tell reporters that he didn’t want any California prisoners housed in Arizona returned to the state because he wants to save money on incarceration costs.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said in a statement Tuesday that he was “deeply troubled by the Arizona law because it will ultimately erode the trust between law enforcement and the community that is essential for public safety.”

But, he said, “I don’t think an official boycott by the state of California is the right answer.” Pérez said that while he has supported boycotts as tools for change, he wants to be sure “the poorest Arizonans are not hurt” in this case.

He said Arizona’s law will probably be overturned, and that it is “squarely rooted” in anxiety over the economy. Opponents of the law, he said, should work to create jobs and press for federal immigration changes.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday an immediate moratorium on official city worker travel to Arizona.

Steinberg said he might contact major league baseball teams and suggest they pull out of training in Arizona. He said opponents of Arizona’s law should take action – just as white Southerners who opposed segregation took action – and send Arizona “an unequivocal message.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has said she would not tolerate ethnic profiling. But civil rights groups vowing to sue to stop Arizona’s law say it has no safeguards against profiling and usurps federal authority over immigration law.

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