Arizona Fights Back Against Boycott Threats Due to Immigration Law

Arizona is sick of threats of boycotts stemming from the immigration law.

May 19, 2010, 3:51 PM

May 19, 2010 — -- Arizona is threatening to leave Los Angeles in the dark -- and its air conditioners without power -- if the city doesn't rescind its order to boycott the state over Arizona's tough new immigration law.

"I feel like if you're going to boycott the candy store, you've got to leave all the candy alone," said Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce. Arizona provides 25 percent of Los Angeles' power.

"I feel like Arizona is the candy store," he added.

Pierce made his challenge after the Los Angeles City Council's 13-1 vote earlier this month to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based businesses.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070 last month, empowering police in the state to stop people they suspect may be illegal immigrants and demand identification.

Los Angeles was among several California municipalities that have voted to boycott Arizona, including San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, as well as Boston, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

Arizona has started to fight back. Pierce sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday explaining his stance on the issue and urging him to "reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona's economy."

"If they're really serious about this, then be true to your conviction," Pierce told "I would be happy to help them to renegotiate the power agreements so they no longer receive power from Arizona."

"When temperatures rise over 100 degrees we're going to love to have the extra power," he said.

Messages left for Villaraigosa were not immediately returned and Pierce said that he has not heard back from the mayor yet either.

"Mainly my letter is to call [Los Angeles] out for the silliest boycott," said Pierce. "I wanted to get my message across and give them a flavor of how I was feeling."

In the letter, Pierce wrote to Villaraigosa that if L.A. is serious about the boycott, he would be "happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation."

"I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands," he wrote.

Residents of Arizona are also coming to their state's defense, writing letters to neighboring San Diego, Calif., threatening not to visit the popular tourist destination unless they call off their boycott.

The San Diego City Council, however, never voted to boycott Arizona. The city simply condemned the state's immigration law and voted to urge lawmakers to repeal the law.

Citizens of Arizona have misunderstood San Diego's stance, said Joe Terzi, the CEO of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, who has been fielding hundreds of e-mails threatening not to visit the city until the boycott is lifted.

"It's a very emotional issue right now and we've received several hundred e-mails concerned about San Diego's City Council vote 7 to 1 to not support the legislation," said Terzi. "The challenge we've had is that they think we are one of the city's that have boycotted Arizona, and that's not the case."

"We are concerned, obviously, because tourism is very important to our destination. It's the lifeblood of the community," he said.

Terzi estimates that San Diego receives 2 million tourists from Arizona every year.

"While people may want to decide to do something [like boycott] because of the symbolism, they end up not changing the issues but instead just hurting people who depend on tourism for their livelihood."