Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/26/2010 07:06:12 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – On the day that Mexican President Felipe Calderon strongly condemned a new Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration, a local Democratic congressman called for an economic boycott of the state.
Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, urged people to follow his lead and avoid traveling or spending their money in Arizona in protest of the state law that makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant.
Baca said he would no longer fly from Ontario to Washington, D.C., because the flight stops in Phoenix. Instead, he said he will take a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to the nation’s capital.
“I will not fly through Arizona until the law is repealed,” Baca said in a phone interview Monday. “I also encourage people not to travel to Arizona unless they have to. If you have to travel, fuel up in California before you get to Arizona.”
Baca also called for the wearing of red, yellow and blue ribbons – the colors of the Arizona flag – to show solidarity with the people of the state.
“I think the law is totally wrong,” Baca said. “This just creates anger, hate and racial profiling.”
The fallout over the signing of the bill, SB 1070, by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last week rippled across the country on Monday.
The measure takes effect 90 days after the current legislative session in Arizona adjourns.
President Barack Obama, who called the bill “misguided,” ordered the Justice Department to look at the law to see if it’s legal. Latino and civil rights groups are expected to file a court challenge to block the law from being implemented.
Immigrant rights supporters are planning dozens of marches and rallies Saturday to protest the law, which requires Arizona police to question people they have a reason to believe are in the country illegally.
A coalition of students, workers, clergy and others are scheduled to hold a march and rally in downtown San Bernardino on Saturday.
“It’s really un-American to do something like this,” said Joe Olague, president of the San Bernardino chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, a national civil rights organization.
“We believe this law is basically discriminatory in nature because 95 percent of the individuals they are targeting will be Latinos,” Olague said.
Meanwhile, the Mexican government on Monday geared up to help its citizens in the United States who feel threatened by the new law.
In a meeting with immigrant rights groups in Mexico City, Calderon said his government “will not remain indifferent when these kinds of policies go against human rights.”
Officials at the Mexican Consulate in downtown San Bernardino are prepared to offer legal assistance and other services to Mexicans regardless of their immigration status.
“We are ready if anyone comes here from Arizona asking for our help,” said Jose Federico Bass Villarreal, the consulate’s director of press and political affairs. “The Mexican government won’t allow the civil rights of its citizens to be violated.”
Supporters say the law prohibits the use of race or nationality as the sole basis for an immigration check.
Brewer has ordered state officials to develop a training course for officers to learn what constitutes reasonable suspicion someone is in the country illegally.
She told reporters last week that the law is needed to deal aggressively with human and drug smugglers who are endangering law-abiding Arizona citizens.
A representative of a local group that supports what Arizona is doing said the law could provide an economic renaissance for the state.
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