Two out-of-state residents are leading the charge to convince others from across the country to come to Arizona this holiday weekend — and specifically to spend some money — to show they support the tough new law aimed at illegal immigration.
Gina Louden of St. Louis, organizer of the Buycott Arizona Campaign, said the state and its businesses are under attack from those who oppose SB 1070. Several groups have cancelled conventions and conferences scheduled for the state and specific businesses with a major Arizona presence are being targeted for boycotts.
Louden said she hopes her campaign, which includes a rally Saturday night in Tempe, counteracts all that.
“I know that patriotic people love to talk with their pocketbooks,” she said at a Thursday press conference in Phoenix to publicize the event.
Louden said her group has proven that before, citing the calls to boycott Whole Foods after that company’s CEO criticized the Obama health care plan. She said her group managed to counter that call, to the point that the firm’s stock actually increased in value.
“My guess is if enough patriots join this effort, we’ll be able to offset any damage (boycotters) will be able to do,” Louden said.
But Louden said more than just Arizona and its fight against illegal immigration.
“Arizona we feel is America’s Alamo in the fight against illegal and dangerous entry into the United States,” she said.
“Our border guards and all of Arizona law enforcement are undermanned, undergunned, taxed to the limit, front-line defenders trying to hold back the invasion,” Louden continued. “We are calling on all America, from the president to every consumer to defend our Alamo in the best way that they have to do so.”
That, she said, means supporting Arizona financially.
The president, however, sidestepped the whole question when asked at a Thursday press conference in Washington if he endorses the calls to boycott the state.
“I’m the president of the United States, I don’t endorse boycotts or not endorse boycotts,” Obama said. “That’s something that private citizens can make a decision about.”
But Obama repeated his concerns that SB 1070 might result in racial profiling and his fear that each state will enact different laws rather than a single national policy.
The new law requires police, when practicable, to investigate those they reasonably suspect are not in this country legally.
Phillip Dennis, founder of the Dallas Tea Party, said his group’s interest is its belief that laws need to be obeyed.
“If we don’t follow the immigration laws, why should Americans follow tax laws or traffic laws or any other law?” he asked.
“There are consequences for not following those laws,” Dennis continued. “I think Arizona’s a perfect example of those negative consequences.”
The rally, set for Saturday evening at Tempe Diablo Stadium, comes just hours after a planned march in Phoenix by opponents of the law. March supporters have predicted crowds of up to 50,000; Dennis would say only that pro-1070 backers hope for “thousands.”
Dennis said it’s immaterial if more people march against the law than show up at the stadium, citing polls showing that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law.
“I think it’s pretty plain through most reports that most Americans realize that we have a tremendous problem with illegal immigration,” he said. “We applaud Arizona as taking the first step to do something about it.”
Louden said there are currently no plans to target specific companies for the buycott, and no plans in particular to try to get people to buy from firms that opponents of SB 1070 already have targeted.
But she said her organization is making a list available of communities where officials have voted to boycott Arizona “so that our people know that’s probably where they don’t want to spend their vacation or their convention money this year.”