May 24th, 2010: TN Legislature Commends Arizona Racial Profiling Bill As Companies Take Business Elsewhere

Economic Boycott Grows, Harming Reputation and Costing AZ Millions

Nashville, TN –   Late Monday afternoon, Tennessee legislators approved a resolution (HJR 1253) commending Arizona for SB 1070, a state bill that mandates racial profiling by requiring police officers to interrogate anyone who appears foreign-born. The impact of this otherwise meaningless resolution is to send a message about TN's position in an increasingly volatile national debate. Unfortunately, this message comes on the heels of a nationwide economic boycott of Arizona, which has cost the state significantly in terms of tourism, income, and reputation. 

Since the passage of SB 1070,  at least 23 tourist events have been cancelled in Arizona, costing the state between $6 and $10 million. Here are some notable examples of the backlash:
  • San Francisco and St. Paul have banned public employees from traveling to Arizona on business. Los Angeles, and Oakland are considering similar actions. (source)
  • Boston, New York, San Diego, and other cities passed boycotts or resolutions condemning Arizona, with considerations to future economic action. (source)
  • Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (R-TX) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) joined other conservative governors condemning the law, and refusing to sign similar legislation if introduced in their own states. (source)
  • Just last week, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon announced that his city was facing a "near economic crisis" because of SB1070 and the subsequent national boycott. A study was presented to the city council which estimated that Phoenix stood to lose upwards of $90 million dollars, in a worst case scenario. (source)

As more and more businesses decide that they are unwilling to support such a racially divisive piece of legislation, many are wondering why Tennessee wants to associate its name with a bill drawing such wide-spread criticism. For critics, mandating racial profiling is a step backwards for the United States, a country that prides itself on our shared values of equality and fairness.

Although study after study demonstrates that a majority of Americans want Congress to reform our broken immigration system, when states like Arizona attempt to do the job of the federal government, we are left with racial profiling and failed enforcement strategies. The hope is that Congress and the White House find the courage to pass comprehensive immigration reform, so states will no longer devise their own "solutions," regardless of the cost.