Senators say Bloomington should end Arizona boycott

Republican leaders in the Indiana Senate want the city of Bloomington to think twice about it's decision to boycott Arizona businesses because of that state's new immigration law.

A letter dated Thursday from Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, and signed by 23 other Republican senators asks Bloomington officials to "take a step back" from their plan to avoid doing business with Arizona companies.

Delph, who has repeatedly tried to advance Statehouse bills cracking down on illegal immigration, said he hopes local and state leaders can unite to pressure Congress and the federal government to act.

"As fellow elected officials from across Indiana, we invite you to revisit your boycott and join those of us who support the enforcement of state and federal immigration laws and the protection of our national sovereignty and security," the letter states.

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan dismissed the letter as a political ploy for votes in an election year. He said it won't change his mind.

"Illegal immigration is a real problem, but all of us should be concerned about a fear-based law that diminishes civil liberties," he said. "We need to unite, but we need to unite to protect our freedoms, not allow them to continue to erode."

Kruzan, the city clerk and eight Bloomington city council members recently sent a letter to Arizona's governor explaining that the city would not buy goods or services from businesses headquartered in Arizona or send city officials to conferences there. Kruzan said the city does not do much business with Arizona businesses, but that the boycott was a way to send a message.

"I'm not under the illusion that Bloomington government not purchasing from Arizona-based businesses will bring the government of Arizona to its knees," Kruzan said. "It's simply a way for us to demonstrate our opposition to an unjust law."

Delph said the letter sent to Bloomington officials gives them more information about Arizona's situation.

"They're free to make their decisions," Delph said. "I just felt like it was important to give the facts as I know them to my friends in Bloomington."

The letter cites statistics that illegal immigration costs Arizona taxpayers more than $2 billion in increased government costs.

"Added to these taxpayer expenses is the high price paid in human costs by innocent Arizona citizens living in fear of violent crime associated with illegal smugglers, drug traffickers and violent felons," the letter states.

Senators who signed the letter include Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville.

Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, said Republicans who signed the letter were not focusing on real issues.

"I wish they would spend as much time focused on jobs and putting Hoosiers back to work as they do worrying about the Bloomington City Council," Simpson said.

The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce has also urged city officials to rescind the boycott after people told the organization they wouldn't support businesses and tourism in the Bloomington area until the boycott was removed.

The Arizona law allows police conducting traffic stops or questioning people about possible legal violations to ask them about their immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they're in the country illegally. Reasonable suspicion is not defined. The law varies little from federal law, which is rarely enforced in some states.

The Arizona law, which takes effect July 29 unless blocked by a court, also makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

About 55,000 to 85,000 illegal immigrants live in Indiana, according to 2006 estimates from the PEW Hispanic Center.

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