Protests long forgotten, Dallas Council members go to Arizona

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on November 7, 2011 at 7:40 PM

DALLAS — A year-and-a-half ago, Dallas residents and some City Council members protested when Arizona passed a law cracking down on illegal immigration.

Some demanded that the City of Dallas stop spending any money in Arizona.

But this week, a delegation of City Council members will go to Arizona for a major conference as the protests and talk of economic boycott have faded.

No boycott or even protest resolution ever came before the Dallas City Council.

"There was no reason, really, to punish the cities who need the resources of conventions," explained Council member Delia Jasso. "So that was, in a short sense, the ultimate resolution that the Hispanic elected local officials did."

But last year, Jasso had enough Council support to bring up a protest resolution. Steve Salazar, who since left the Council, talked boycott.

But criticized for being extreme, Salazar and Jasso settled for personally supporting Hispanics in Arizona while opposing the law.

Their effort was opposed by former Mayor Tom Leppert, who's now a candidate in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, and by various tea party groups.

Hispanic elected officials in Arizona questioned boycotts that would hurt the working people in Arizona that any boycott was supposed to help.

So five City Council members will go to Phoenix to attend the National League of Cities conference this week, costing the city about $9,000.

Some Hispanic activists, like Carlos Quintanilla of Accion America, still think it's wrong. "I think the city should basically send a message to Arizona that anti-immigration, hateful legislation, racial profiling is unacceptable," he said.

No Hispanic Council members are scheduled to go along on the trip, but not because of the controversial law. They say they're busy with other city business, although Monica Alonzo says she still might travel to Arizona.

"I've been busy on working on a lot of issues in the city, in the district particularly, so I am looking to see if I'd be more helpful over there or more helpful over here for now," Alonzo said.

One study found the national boycott cost Arizona well over $100 million in lost business, but the Dallas dollars won't be among them.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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