City Attorney Defends Potential Challenge To Arizona Immigration Law

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San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera committed this morning to suss out and terminate city contracts with Arizona companies in protest of the state's harsh new immigration law.  Herrera also said he would offer his staff's assistance in any legal challenges to the law.

While no progressive San Franciscan would say that the Arizona law is anything short of a disaster, should a department facing $1.6 million in budget cuts commit resources and staff time to challenge an out-of-state law?

City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey says this is not mere grandstanding -- and might have a real effect. "I know this is an issue that resonates personally with [Herrera]. ... I think Dennis feels strongly it's worth anything this city could do. There's also the reality of if enough cities do this, there's critical mass, and Arizona might change its position."

True, San Francisco is not the only entity calling for a boycott of Arizona. Democratic congressman Raul Grijalva, who represents the border region of Arizona, has called for a nationwide boycott of  conventions held in his own state. Some 70 truckers from California and Arizona have agreed to stop driving goods in or out of Arizona for a week.

Dorsey says the efforts don't have to be a huge drain on resources: The contract division could help identify Arizona-based companies and a staff attorney could write an amicus brief to file with a likely court challenge. "We got Cocoa Krispies to fold with one press release. Sometimes the bully pulpit strategy is pretty cost-effective."

The city's Office of Contract Administration hasn't returned phone calls yet about just how many contracts we're talking about  here.

Finally, to answer someone else's question, Dorsey received a query of whether he'd continue returning phone calls to SF Weekly based on the boycott. This paper's parent company, Village Voice Media, is based in Phoenix. The City Attorney spokesman said he'd keep dialing our digits:  "I don't treat anyone differently depending on where their parent company may be based."
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