LOS ANGELES – The City Council voted Wednesday to boycott Arizona businesses, making Los Angeles the largest city to take such action to protest the state’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration.

The 13-1 vote, which came after emotional discussion in which several council members recounted their immigrant ancestors, was largely symbolic since only a small percentage of the city’s business dealings are affected.

“An immigrant city, an international city, (Los Angeles) needs to have its voice heard,” Councilman Ed Reyes said. “It is crucial this great city take a stand.”

The resolution is expected to be signed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It bars the nation’s second-largest city from conducting business or reaching new contracts with Arizona businesses unless the immigration law is repealed, and also prohibits most city business trips to the state.

Los Angeles has investments and contracts in Arizona worth as much as $58 million, much of which involve airport, port and energy service that can’t lawfully be affected by the boycott. That leaves about $7.7 million in city contracts that could possibly be affected, said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who co-authored the resolution.

Some of those contracts include helicopter services, Taser guns, waste management, engineering and surveillance equipment.

The resolution claims that Arizona’s new law encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional. The law, set to take effect July 29, requires police enforcing another law to question a person about his or her immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the United States illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

Several lawsuits seeking to block its implementation are pending in federal court.

Some polls have shown strong popular support for the Arizona law, and critics are concerned that other states may follow up with their own versions.

Several cities have passed resolutions or urged boycotts, including California cities such as Oakland and San Diego.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the boycotts are misguided, because the law mirrors a federal requirement that legal immigrants carry immigration papers.

Charges that the law will lead to racial profiling are “just pure rhetoric,” Brewer said.

“I find it really interesting that we have people out there that are attempting a boycott in favor of illegal actions in Arizona.”

Hahn also called for a review of the city’s investments and divestiture of any pension funds and bonds proceeds invested in Arizona.


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