LA Rescinds Boycott Over Arizona Immigration Law

LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to overturn a policy barring city officials from traveling to Arizona due to its passage of a controversial immigration law that has since been mostly struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Council members voted 10-0 to rescind a city policy first passed in 2010 restricting travel by city officials to Arizona and ordering city departments to refrain from contracting with businesses there.

The move came in response to an Arizona law that required police to ask about the immigration status of people they stopped if they had “reasonable suspicious” the person was in the country illegally.

Los Angeles’ policy previously only allowed travel to Arizona when “special circumstances can be demonstrated to the Council that the failure to authorize such travel would seriously harm City interests,” according to a 2016 report by the city’s chief legislative analyst.

In recent years, the council has rolled back the strictest rules of the policy, allowing some city officials to attend trainings in Arizona and permitting the purchase of equipment there. Six travel exemption requests were granted by the city, according to the 2016 report.

Several city departments were exempt from the policy and said they would only adopt travel and contract bans if the full council passed an official ordinance. Between 2012 and 2015, the Department of Water and Power paid $19 million in contracts with companies based in Arizona, the report states.

After being debated by council members in recent years, the motion to rescind the policy was passed Tuesday without comment.

The original policy was passed in response to Arizona Senate Bill 1070, a contentious bill widely seen as a harsh, anti-immigrant measure. It required law enforcement officials to ask about the immigration status of people they came into contact with if they had reasonable suspicious the person was an illegal alien.

SB 1070 made it a misdemeanor for undocumented people to not carry papers showing they were seeking registration. It also made it a crime to be employed or seek work while being undocumented.

Many other states, including Georgia, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina and Indiana, introduced similar legislation targeting immigrants shortly after SB 1070 was signed into law by then-Governor Jan Brewer.

Immigrant-rights advocates denounced the measure, calling it the “show me your papers” bill, because it exposed people suspected of being undocumented to racial profiling by law enforcement. It was quickly challenged by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and civil rights groups.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 ruling, struck down key provisions of the law in 2012. Arizona’s practice of requiring police officers to inquire about immigration status when there is reasonable suspicious was ended in 2016 as part of a settlement agreement.

Immigration remains a polarizing issue in the United States. President Donald Trump has pushed for the construction of a wall along the country’s entire border with Mexico. The wall has been a central pillar of Trump’s immigration policy.

Los Angeles lawmakers have implemented policies in other areas of city operations that represent their firm position on immigration. A City Council ordinance passed on April 17 requires contractors doing business with the city to disclose all bids, contracts, and proposals tied to construction of the border wall with Mexico, or risk paying fines and penalties.

This month, after Trump said he would use members of the military to patrol and secure the U.S.-Mexico border, Arizona announced it would send 338 members of the National Guard to its border with Mexico.

According to an April 7 U.S. Department of Defense memo, the federal government will pay for the deployment of roughly 4,000 National Guard troops along the border. Soldiers will be unarmed, except for when self-defense is called for, and will not enforce immigration laws or come into contact with migrants unless approved by Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the memo.

Los Angeles City Council members have approved boycotts of other states and cities that passed laws allegedly violating the civil rights of their residents. In April 2016, city lawmakers passed a boycott of North Carolina and Mississippi over laws widely denounced as discriminatory against the LGBT community.

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