Though some thought Arizona was taking charge of its own fate by passing Senate Bill (SB) 1070, the fate of the legislation is now out of its hands. Regardless of whether the Federal government files suit, it will probably wind up at the Supreme Court. On June 16, an impressive group of executives from academia, private corporations, and major non-profits crowded into the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, not to worry about the future of 1070, but to worry about the future of Arizona, in the wake of 1070.
In 1992, the Martin Luther King Holiday was passed in Arizona, primarily through the efforts of the hospitality community. Again, it is the business community, which is starting to coordinate an effort to change Arizona’s image. The Arizona Latino Research Enterprise (ALRE) coordinated the meeting; but it is not a Hispanic campaign.
Arizona continues to be derided, ridiculed and ignored. During the past year, what used to be a laid-back, part-time State legislature rolled out a plethora of legislation (e.g., guns in bars, the birther bill, SB 1070, sale of fireworks, the proposed anchor baby bill) that have drawn national attention to Arizona, previously famous for spas and golf. Now Arizona is regularly featured on CNN…and the nightly comedy shows.
While there is anecdotal evidence that some people may come to Arizona to support 1070, most reports concern cancelled meetings, conferences and hotel reservations. While 23 groups (e.g., including the 5000 attendees of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s 104th anniversary) cancelled in the first two weeks after the legislation was signed, the greater problem is the long-term impact. Many groups are making booking decisions now for conventions in 2012 and beyond.
There is no consensus among the growing business coalition about politics (Democrats, Republicans and Independents are involved) or even the immigration issue. But there was agreement that there should be an immediate, widespread and well-funded campaign to let the Nation know that Arizona is a diverse state and a wonderful place to visit and conduct business. Its residents are not radical: the 2009 Arizona We Want report identified that the top concerns of Arizonans included jobs, leadership, education, health care, and the environment, not immigration.
Sal Rivera, Chair of the ALRE coalition, said, “We hope to continue the dialogue among key community leaders on how we work together to see that Arizona is not put in this predicament again.”