Phoenix Says Immigration Law Boycott Is Causing ‘Near Economic Crisis’

May 13, 2010 11:02 a.m.
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The City of Phoenix — a convention hot-spot — is facing a “near economic crisis” caused by lost revenue stemming from organizations canceling events in response to Arizona’s controversial immigration law, according to its mayor.

In the wake of the bill’s passage last month, immigration rights leaders, including Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), have called for a nationwide boycott of the state. This week, at the request of Mayor Phil Gordon, a study was presented to the city council on the potential economic impact of canceled trips.The study assumed that each event brings 5000 people to the city as delegates, and that each delegate spends a total of around $1400, according to David Krietor, a city official who put it together. Assuming around 13 canceled events, the city calculated a loss of around $90 million, according to a Powerpoint presentation provided to TPMmuckraker.

But it’s worth taking that figure with a grain of salt. The study found that only four groups — the African-American Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the National Association of Black Accountants, the International Communications Association and the National Urban League — rather than 13, have already canceled events that had been scheduled. Another dozen events were listed as “vulnerable” to cancellation, but asked what constituted “vulnerable,” a spokeswoman for the city pointed only to “a combination of factors.” It’s also not clear that each event would have brought 5000 people to the city, or how much each person would have spent.

Still, it city leaders are obviously concerned. “We have an image and public-relations problem of what might be unprecedented proportions,” Krietor told the Arizona Republic.

Arizona’s immigration law, which goes into effect over the summer barring expected legal challenges, would make it a crime to be in the state illegally, and would require law enforcement personnel to question anyone they suspect of being her illegally about their immigration status.

Gordon, a Democrat, has often clashed with Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, a hardline foe of illegal immigration and supporter of the law.

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