MLB All-Star Game Boycott Bad Idea Says State Representative Ruben Gallego

Ever since Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law, pro-immigrant activists and politicians have had different perspectives on how to best show disapproval of the controversial immigration statute.         
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Organizations such as the Phoenix-based human-rights organization Puente have called for a boycott of the state. U.S. Representative from Tucson Raul Grijalva agreed with an Arizona boycott initially, but has since backed away from it. 

Now, state Representative Ruben Gallego says organizations focusing on a boycott should focus more on registering Latinos to vote.

In a recent blog post for News Taco, a Latino news Website, Gallego argues that boycotting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, scheduled for July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix, is not a good idea because it is inevitably going to "hurt working Latino families," especially those with jobs at the stadium.

"I don't think a boycott is going to hurt [pro-SB 1070 politicians]," Gallego told New Times. "The way you actually affect the Pearces... and Brewers of the world is by getting the Latino vote [to the ballot box]."

Tupac Enriquez, a Puente member, admits that not everyone is going to agree with the boycott as a tactic, but it will send a message to supporters of what he says are oppressive laws.

"Justice is always compelling, but it is not always popular," Enriquez says. 

Earlier this year, 60 local business owners and CEOs signed a letter to state Senate President Russell Pearce asking him to abandon his anti-immigrant agenda, in part because of the negative economic impact of SB 1070, and the boycott that resulted from it.

"Arizona's lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration," the letter reads. "But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur."

Those consequences have included cancellations of national conferences scheduled to be held in Arizona. 

More recently Puente has targeted entertainment events such as Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez's concert at US Airways Center and a Mexican soccer match between Club America and Morelia, scheduled for this Sunday at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

It's unclear how much revenue Arizona has lost because of SB 1070, but if that letter to Pearce is any indicator, business leaders are feeling the boycott's sting.

Gallego insists that anti-immigrant politicians are dealt with more effectively by a powerful Latino electorate than by asking musicians not to perform in Phoenix.

"If you turn out Latinos to vote and they vote out people who have an anti-Hispanic platform, then it's going to start teaching [politicians] a lesson that you can not just pass [anti-immigrant] laws without there being any political repercussions," Gallego explains.

Enriquez counters that registering Latinos to vote is only part of the answer.

"The people most affected by this type of legislation are never going to have the opportunity to become electors," Enriquez claims. "So it's not just a matter of registering people who are eligible to vote. Of course that's part of the response, but we have to go beyond that."

Gallego concedes it's going to take a major effort for Hispanics to gain political clout, something they have been missing in Arizona history. So far the state has had only one Latino governor, Raul Castro. Few Hispanic politicians have had any real political muscle since then.

Gallego explains that Republicans in Arizona seem oblivious toward Latinos, which why it is key for Latinos to vote in 2012.

"That way we can sneak up on them," he says.

Even though Gallego disagrees with a boycott, he understands why Puente and other organizations are calling for one.

"They have a good heart and good intentions, but I think they are going about it the wrong way," he says.

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