St. Paul mayor bans city business travel to Arizona

  • Updated: April 28, 2010 - 8:04 PM

St. Paul city employees won't be heading to Arizona on the taxpayers' dime anytime soon.

Mayor Chris Coleman on Wednesday ordered a boycott of publicly funded travel to the state in protest of the new immigration legislation adopted there.

The Arizona law allows law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if the officers have reason to suspect people are in the country illegally and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

Supporters of the law say it's a good effort to fight a major problem that the federal government hasn't been able to deal with.

Critics say the law could encourage racial profiling and other abuses.

Arizona isn't a frequent work destination for city employees, but that's not the point, Coleman said. The law, "rooted in hate and fear," sets a dangerous example, he said.

"It will create a culture where racial profiling is acceptable and will create a dangerous wedge between police officers and the communities they serve," Coleman said. "I can't imagine what it would have been like for my grandmother had they passed a similar anti-Irish law.

"Today I choose to stand with the millions of immigrants in our city and across the country who should have access to the same level of safety and opportunity as everyone else."

Coleman said he would write to the Democratic and Republican national committees, urging them not to choose Phoenix as a site for national conventions in 2012.

Minneapolis officials say they are considering a similar move.

CHRIS HAVENS

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