07/12/2010 10:42 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What's the Matter with Arizona? Text BOYCOTT to 62571

With the 2010 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference under way in San Antonio, many have asked what the most important issues are for Latinos. While the economy, education, and health care all top the agenda, another critical matter has grasped the minds of the Latino community: immigration, and specifically, Arizona's controversial anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. Like no other issue, immigration has been manipulated to demonize Latinos and challenge their place in America, regardless of their immigration status. And SB 1070, which legalizes and legitimizes racial profiling, has become the prime vehicle for that strategy--a false solution to a real problem.

In just the last few months, Arizona has pushed a host of anti-immigrant and ultimately anti-Hispanic measures, including banning ethnic studies from public schools, preventing teachers with "foreign" accents from teaching English, and trying to strip babies born in the United States of their citizenship if their parents are undocumented residents.

The question "What's the matter with Arizona?" appropriately set the tone for a featured session during Conference, at which attendees heard from national civil rights and labor leaders, including Daniel Ortega, Chair of the NCLR Board of Directors. Mr. Ortega described how anything--even something as small as playing music too loud--could be grounds for law enforcement to ask a person for documents. The law would drive a wedge between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Community policing would fly out the window, he explained, and that is why most police chiefs in Arizona are against the law.

Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, reminded us of the struggles that the African American community endured to attain civil rights in this country, and he emphasized that racial profiling is not acceptable for any group. Just like "driving while Black" is unacceptable, he said "it's wrong for Hispanics to be stopped because they're breathing while Latino."

Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers of America, shared lessons from the table grape boycott that brought to the American public a deeper knowledge of the deplorable conditions, and the abuse, to which farmworkers are subjected. These are important lessons as we look toward flexing the economic muscle of the Hispanic community, its allies, and all Americans of good conscience. Together we must take a stand against extremism and seek the real solutions our country needs.

The Arizona law is so extreme that it calls for extraordinary measures.

That is why we have called for a boycott of Arizona, asking our allies and their partners to not hold any major events or conferences in the state, and to ask their partners and major American institutions to do the same.

That is also why we are calling on Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB), to move the 2011 MLB All-Star Game out of Arizona. In the past, MLB defied the institutionalized racism of Jim Crow laws to sign Jackie Robinson and integrate the game. Baseball represents the diverse face of America and cannot stand in the same space where such extreme measures and a hateful environment are emerging. Now, when a community so deeply connected to the baseball family, both on and off the field, is targeted by hatred, it is time to stand up for those players and fans. It is about safeguarding the integrity of the game, and it is about protecting their safety.

We all have a role to play in this effort. We're asking people to take action by texting BOYCOTT to 62571 so they can receive alerts on how to get involved and make their voices heard. You can also send a letter to Commissioner Selig by visiting

We don't need any more false solutions that trample our values. We need real leadership to fix the broken immigration system in a way that upholds our traditions as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. In the process, we must put a stop to Arizona's misguided law because legitimizing racial profiling is just no way to go.