The NFL’s decision to pick Arizona this week to host the Super Bowl in 2015 has outraged some Hispanic activists who had organized a boycott of the state after a controversial immigration law passed last year.
“In light of Arizona’s hate-based legislation, the action taken by the NFL serves as an endorsement of the state’s abhorrent actions against the Latino and migrant communities,” said Margaret Moran, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest Hispanic civil rights group in the country.
“Instead of supporting efforts that would encourage stakeholders and community leaders to build alliances and re-direct state politics away from hate-based legislation, the NFL has chosen to prove an economic shot in the arm to state that will only continue to oppress an already disadvantaged community.”
NFL owners chose Arizona over Florida Tuesday in the latest sign that the fallout over the state’s strict immigration law, known as SB 1070, is diminishing. In July, Major League Baseball held its All-Star Game in downtown Phoenix after critics urged players, coaches and fans to boycott the event as part of a broader call for companies to stop doing business with Arizona.
But the controversy largely fizzed out and there were only about 30 game-day protesters who were largely ignored by baseball fans making their way to the ballpark.
“As we continue to get more distance from the passage of that law, its effect on the market will continue to diminish,” said Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. “If look back at the All-Star game, you could see there was very little SB10 controversy come game day, and I would anticipate that to be the case as years go by.”
SB1070 would require all immigrants to carry immigration registration papers and requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question people's immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally.
Last month, the National Council of La Raza, one of the nation’s most prominent Hispanic groups, called off a boycott of Arizona it imposed in May 2010. The Washington-based group said it canceled the boycott because it successfully discouraged other states from enacting similar laws.
Studies of the estimated economic losses to the state over the boycott vary but some peg the number as high as $141 million.
LULAC did not say whether it would try to revive the boycott but it made clear it was not happy with the NFL.
“The NFL turned a blind eye today to the state’s hateful, wasteful, and hurtful legislation that has divided communities and made enemies out of neighbors,” Moran said.
“Arizona is facing devastating budget cuts to education, health care, and housing,” she said. “Rather than deal with such issues, the Arizona legislature is energized around legislation that is meant to instill fear in the Latino and migrant communities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.