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TribBlog: ATX to Ariz: No Thanks!

In the wake of Arizona's immigration legislation, the City of Austin will formally consider limiting travel and business with the state.

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The Austin City Council will formally consider limiting travel to Arizona and terminating any business contracts currently in place with the state. A resolution will be introduced at a May 13 meeting, according to a statement issued today from Councilman Mike Martinez’s office.

“The reasons for introducing this measure are two-fold,” said Martinez, the city’s mayor pro tem. “First and foremost, we want to ensure that we are not exposing city employees to risk by sending them into an uncertain and potentially hostile environment in Arizona.  Second, we want to send a loud and clear message to the State of Arizona that our community stands in vehement opposition to racial discrimination in any form.”

Martinez added that the proposal is similar to actions undertaken by the council in the past, citing policies that prohibit the city from doing business with companies “who utilize sweatshop labor.”

“It is squarely within the Council’s purview to determine with whom the city should or should not do business based on their practices,” he said.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell acknowledged the rare move the city is taking as it weighs in on matters outside its jurisdiction, but said the legislation “has a direct impact on our employees, and is generally so offensive that I believe it demands our attention. I’m supporting this resolution because I believe that we have a responsibility not only to protect our own employees, but also to speak out loudly against racial discrimination wherever it exists.”

Added Councilman Bill Spelman: “Arizona’s new immigration law puts anyone traveling to the state in jeopardy of being detained, based on a law enforcement officer’s ‘reasonable suspicion’ that that person might be an undocumented immigrant. That’s wrong, and I can’t responsibly allow our city employees to be placed at such a risk.”

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