Thursday, September 22, 2011

Latino group defends "end of boycott" call

Shifting our approach in Arizona
By Janet Murguía, National Council of La Raza

Over a week ago, my organization, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), along with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Asian American Justice Center, announced the suspension of our participation in the economic boycott of Arizona. As was the case when NCLR initially announced our plans to join in boycotting the state in May 2010, we consulted with a wide variety of our partners, including our network of nonprofit Affiliate organizations across the country-13 of which are based in Arizona-and our sister civil rights institutions. We did not come to the decision to boycott Arizona lightly, nor do we end our participation now without careful consideration.

In particular, we were moved to act after receiving requests from Arizona's elected officials, business leaders, union leaders, religious leaders, and local NCLR Affiliates.They believe that this was the right time for NCLR to suspend its boycott activities in order to promote a more constructive debate around the issue of immigration. There is a concerted and growing effort in the state to foster civil and constructive dialogue--voices who represent a broader swath of Arizona than the brand of extremism that has tarnished the state. In light of the injunction against the law, and these growing efforts committed to charting a new course, we agreed to suspend our participation in the boycott.

Our opposition to racial profiling laws like SB 1070 is unequivocal, and the work against them continues. The record has shown that they are destructive political wedges that undermine the social and economic fabric of the communities where they are pushed through. And because of that we understand why other organizations and allies may choose to continue to boycott the state, and we respect that decision completely. For our part, we reserve the right to reinstate the boycott should the law be implemented, and in the meantime will continue to work with and lend our support to local partners trying to get their state back on track.

Ultimately though, by pursuing this new course, we hope we can play a role in bringing SB 1070 supporters and opponents together to find the common ground needed to advance sustainable solutions to fix our broken immigration system. We look forward to working together with all Arizonans - and Americans - of good will to seek real, lasting solutions that are consistent with our nation's most fundamental values and principles.

Janet Murguía is President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza

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