Local rights group upset about announcement to end SB1070 boycott

Published: Sep. 12, 2011 at 11:04 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 21, 2011 at 1:06 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Local opponents of Arizona's immigration enforcement law say their battle goes on even if a boycott doesn't.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) says it's ending its boycott because it has achieved its goal of changing the direction in which the state had been going, and because SB1070 is tied up in the courts.

There's no doubt the economic boycott over SB1070 hurt Arizona, a state that depends heavily on tourism.

Tucson's tourism industry alone tops two billion dollars a year.

However, while the boycott might be over for some, we found, for others, it's still going strong.

Demonstrations and protests broke out in Arizona when the state legislature passed SB 1070 last year.

The economic boycott started in May of 2010, and it has had an impact on tourism in Arizona.

Now one of the largest, most recognized groups, the NCLR, is calling off its boycott.

We reached an NCLR spokeswoman in Washington D.C.

She says community, elected and business leaders in Arizona asked it to end its boycott.

"The law has been enjoined by the courts and there is a growing coalition in Arizona of folks who are charting a different course than what these kinds of divisive laws would create," says the NCLR's Immigration and National Campaigns Director Clarissa Martinez De Castro.

"At this point we are willing to give our local partners the discretion they have asked us for as they chart a new course for the state which I think is going to be incredibly productive to really elevate the voices of the people in Arizona," Martinez De Castro says.

A local tourism official welcomes the news, while saying his group is staying out of the politics of it.

"That's really outside of our bailiwick. We're trying to get people here. We're trying to get visitors and convention groups here because it has a tremendous economic impact on this community," says Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Jonathan Walker.

But not everyone is happy about the NCLR ending its boycott.

In fact, some are angry.

"Any organization that really is calling it off cannot possibly really be in touch with people on the ground," says Kat Rodriguez, Program Director for Derechos Humanos, a human rights organization.

Rodriguez says Derechos Humanos and other human rights groups say they will continue the boycott because things are not getting better for people they represent.

The NCLR says the boycott has led to Arizona business people calling for an end to the passage of other controversial laws similar to SB1070.

But Derechos Humanos says it's not enough.

They "didn't do it out of the kindness of their hearts. They did it because they were feeling the economic pinch. And because of that, we know that's what works," Rodriguez says.

The NCLR's Martinez De Castro says she understands why some groups want to continue the boycott.

She says her organization will continue watching what happens to SB1070

"And like I said, we reserve the right to reinstate this if at any point it were to be implemented," she says.

We asked Martinez De Castro which elected officials asked that the NCLR end its boycott.

She told us they include Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva,  outspoken critics of SB1070.