SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco city officials called Monday for a boycott of Arizona and businesses based there to protest that state's strict new immigration law.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera compared San Francisco's opposition to the measure to its stance against apartheid in South Africa, the oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland, and discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"San Francisco has always taken a leadership role in issues of moral importance," Herrera said.
Arizona's new legislation, signed into law Friday, makes being in the country illegally a crime punishable by six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
His teams will start determining which contracts between the city and county of San Francisco and Arizona could be severed without penalty, Herrera said. It is unclear how many businesses that could affect.
This tactic has been used against Arizona before with success, Herrera said.
Arizona was one of the last states to adopt a holiday honoring Martin Luther King — a reluctance that led to a boycott in the 1980s that cost the city hundreds of conventions and the Super Bowl XXVII, in 1993. The pressure, and the financial pinch, led the state to put the holiday on the ballot. Voters approved the measure, making Martin Luther King Day a holiday.
Steps like the one proposed by San Francisco would remind the state's lawmakers their decision could have economic and political consequences, Herrera said.
City supervisors also spoke against the Arizona law. Before a cheering crowd, they promised to introduce a resolution calling for a citywide boycott of Arizona.
"We are not going to use our city resources to support that law," said supervisor David Campos, who is himself an immigrant from Guatemala.
A rally outside City Hall called for immigration reform and applauded the city officials' stance.
Protesters and other opponents of the law said it would lead to racial profiling, and only a path to legalization would shield immigrants from abuses that could be committed under this law. Supporters have dismissed those concerns, arguing it is against the law to use race or nationality as the only reasons for an immigration check.
But the dozens of San Francisco residents said this new measure fostered a fear that rippled beyond Arizona's borders.
"There is too much unfairness toward Latinos," said protester Celida Ruiz, 39, a mother of six originally from El Salvador. "This law in Arizona hurts us all very much — the ones in Arizona, but us here as well, if we don't stand up to it."