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Los Angeles to boycott Arizona over immigration law

The Los Angeles city council has voted to boycott Arizona businesses in one of the strongest moves yet against the state´s new immigration law.

Council members agreed to bar official travel to Arizona and avoid new city contracts with state firms.

Last month, Arizona passed a law requiring police to check the immigration status of people suspected of being in the US illegally.

Opponents have rallied against the law, saying it encourages racial profiling.

Several cities have enacted resolutions condemning the law and tens of thousands of people across the US have joined protests against it.

Travel ban

The Los Angeles legislation now goes to the city´s mayor, who has pledged to sign it. It could affect up to $8m in city contracts and travel.

LA is the second-largest city in the US, and 39% of its population is foreign born.

"As an American, I cannot go to Arizona today without a passport," Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes, one of the resolution´s sponsors, was quoted as saying by the LA Times newspaper.

Among other measures, the LA bill would bar most official city travel to Arizona and direct city departments to avoid signing new contracts with Arizona businesses.

Its cost to Arizona is unclear, although a co-sponsor of the measure estimated it would affect $7m to $8m in city contracts.

A spokesman for Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called the boycott "thoughtless and harmful".

"It also appears that the Los Angeles city council appears hopelessly out of touch with most of America on this issue," spokesman Paul Senseman said in a statement.

´Reasonable suspicion´

The Republican-controlled Arizona legislature approved the controversial law last month after declaring Washington had failed to curb illegal immigration.

The Arizona law requires police officers to question people they stop for a "legitimate reason" about their immigration status if the officers have "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the US illegally. It takes effect on 29 July.

Opponents of the Arizona law say it will encourage racial profiling of Hispanics, who make up three-quarters of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the US.

Several cities across the country have denounced the measure. A non-binding resolution approved on Tuesday by San Francisco city supervisors asks sports leagues not to hold championship games or tournaments in Arizona.

(Published by BBC – May 12, 2010)

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