Around 7,000 people in support of the state’s new immigration law gathered at Tempe Diablo Stadium Saturday evening.
The rally, called “Stand With Arizona,” emphasized that Arizonans and others in support of SB 1070, a law that makes illegal immigration a state crime, should participate in a “buycott” to offset the boycott efforts.
Some states, cities, businesses and people have boycotted Arizona in protest of SB 1070 by choosing not to contribute to the state’s economy.
Susan Bitter Smith, president of the Central Arizona Project board of directors, expressed concern over the boycotts.
The Central Arizona Project is a 336-mile canal that manages and delivers water to central Arizona from the Colorado River, according to the project’s Web site.
California, Nevada and Arizona signed a water agreement in April that could be jeopardized by a Los Angeles boycott and could affect Arizona’s water supply, she said.
“We don’t have certainty that they’ll move forward with their agreement to help us on desalination and additional water resources,” Bitter Smith said.
She also said the hospitality business, which includes hotels, has been affected by the boycott because some business conferences have been moved.
However, she said it’s too early to tell if there is a significant effect on the economy.
Bitter Smith is in support of the “buycott” and the new immigration law.
“[The buycott is] creating a different storyline and sending a very different message so that residents of the rest of the country can see that some arbitrary political statements…really aren’t reflective of where the rest of the country is,” Bitter Smith said.
Although boycotts are affecting some hotels, the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe has received business because of the “buycott” rally.
David Rosenbaum, the director of sales and marketing at the resort, said there were about 20 to 25 guest rooms booked because of the rally.
Usually hotels lose guests because of SB 1070, he said.
“Here’s a case where we actually see some guest rooms because of it,” Rosenbaum said.
Tempe spokeswoman Nikki Ripley said the coordinators for the event paid $1,000 to $1,500 to rent the stadium, around $6,700 for police coverage, around $1,000 for fire personnel and an unknown amount for traffic control.
Matt McCoy, an aviation management and human factors graduate student, said he attended the rally to support Arizona and is concerned about the boycotts.
“This law, all it really does is reinforce federal law, something the federal government has not been able to do,” McCoy said.
He is not sure how the boycott and “buycott” efforts will affect Arizona’s economy.
“I’m very supportive of the buycott because it’s obviously having citizens support citizens in their local endeavors and their businesses,” McCoy said.
The creators of Saturday’s event were from other states, including Phillip Dennis of the Dallas Tea Party and Gina Loudon of the St. Louis Tea Party.
Loudon, the founder and leader of the “BUYcott Arizona” campaign, said Arizona is only trying to protect its border and is enforcing laws that are already present.
“This is really not even about Arizona if you think about it,” Loudon said. “This is about the very heart of America. This is an American boycott.”
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a speaker at the rally, said his office has arrested, detained or investigated 38,000 illegal immigrants in the last three years.
“I have confidence in the law enforcement with this new law,” Arpaio said. “They’re not going to racially profile. They enforce the law every day.”
He said when the new law takes effect, any illegal immigrants will be booked into jail.
“I have room for 2,500, and I’m stacking those tents up,” Arpaio said, referring to Tent City Jail.
Stand With Arizona spokeswoman Carole Bartholomeaux said the event raised about $6,200 through donations for the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.
PLEA will donate some of the money to Arizona’s Border Patrol for officers and families who have been affected by injuries and deaths from illegal immigration.
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