Multiple groups are calling for a boycott of the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Phoenix, Ariz., on July 12 in protest of the immigration law SB 1070. The groups include the Arizona-based human rights groups Puente and Somos America. The Phoenix New Times reports:
Raul Cordero, a member of Puente, says that hurting Arizona’s economy sends a message of dissatisfaction about Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration statute. “This boycott is to avoid money getting to racist governments who promote hatred,” Cordero proclaimed. “The revenue put into the system is what gives force to this racist state.”
An indirect response to the groups protesting the game, Maricopa, Ariz. sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man who has come to symbolize the aggressive immigration enforcement tactics championed by Arizona Republicans, announced he would be using his chain gang of female prisoners to clean up trash at the All-Star game. Arpaio told the New Times¸ “If [protesters] can be there, why can’t my female chain gang be there as a public service.”
According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, 27 percent of MLB players are Latino, compared to 16 percent of the general population. Since its passage, SB 1070 has been condemned by civil right groups because they say it would lead to racial discrimination against Hispanics by police, who under the law are required to request identification from anyone that they have a “reasonable suspicion” is an undocumented immigrant. A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking this part of the law from going into effect.
In addition to a general boycott, the groups are also calling on prominent Latino and foreign-born players in particular to not attend the game if they are chosen to play, including the Boston Red Sox’s Adrian Gonzalez, who is Mexican-American. Gonzalez had previously said that he would “probably” not attend the game, but now says he will follow the lead of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The MLBPA has said that they oppose the law, but Nation columnist Dave Zirin says it appears that they “have no plans to call for any kind of a boycott.”
MLB commissioner Bud Selig was also chastised by AP sports columnist Jim Litke earlier this week for not “taking a stand” on SB 1070 and the All-Star game’s location.