L.A. ends its frequently porous economic boycott of Arizona

The city launched the boycott eight years ago to protest a law targeting illegal immigration


Los Angeles is ending its economic boycott of Arizona, which was launched eight years ago to protest a hotly contested law targeting illegal immigration and then repeatedly lifted as the city continued buying products from that state.

The restrictions, backed by lawmakers in 2010, were supposed to curb purchases from Arizona and largely stop city employees from visiting the state on official municipal business. But it was often waived, with the city buying Tasers, cameras and other supplies from that state.

The City Council voted 10 to 0 Tuesday to end the restrictions, in large part because key parts of the Arizona law, known as Senate Bill 1070, have been softened or eliminated. Lawmakers said those developments rendered the boycott unnecessary.


Councilman Gil Cedillo, who pushed for the repeal, said he would have preferred to see fewer exceptions to the city’s ban. Nevertheless, he said he viewed the policy as effective, particularly since it coincided with similar bans at the state level and elsewhere.

Cedillo said he had one piece of evidence to show the ban had an effect: Politicians in Phoenix repeatedly approached him over the years about repealing it.

“They evidently felt it was successful, or meaningful,” he said. “They would always come to me and ask me to work to lift it.”

SB 1070 allowed officers in Arizona to arrest a person without a warrant if they believed the person had committed an offense that could lead to deportation. The law made it a crime for people in the country illegally to seek work, and required police to check the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally when they are stopped for other reasons.

Several parts of the polarizing law were struck down by the Supreme Court. In addition, immigrant rights groups reached an agreement with Arizona officials that ended the practice of requiring police to demand papers from people suspected of being in the country illegally.

In Los Angeles, the council initially responded to passage of SB 1070 by ordering city officials to look for ways to terminate contracts with companies based in Arizona. The Police Department canceled plans for sending four police officers to a training conference in Tucson, angering union leaders.


Within a year, however, the city was still purchasing street-sweeper parts and other supplies from the state.

The ban did not ultimately apply to some of the city’s biggest agencies — the Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles World Airports and the Port of Los Angeles, according to a 2016 report from the city’s chief legislative analyst. Once those agencies are factored in, the city spent $38 million between 2012 and 2015 to entities with Arizona addresses, the report states.

Muddying the picture further, officials said they had found that some of the companies with Arizona addresses that received city funds actually were headquartered in other states.

The council worded its boycott in a way that allowed municipal employees to travel to Arizona if failing to do so would seriously harm city interests. As a result, the council waived its travel restrictions at least three times, the report states.

City analysts said in their report that they had identified other city flights to Arizona that did not appear to have received council review. They said more research would be needed to understand those trips.


Twitter: @davidzahniser

Twitter: @AlpertReyes