When it became clear that SB1070, the new Arizona immigration law that's made national news, was going to become law, I called on national and regional groups not to hold their conventions or conferences in the state until it was overturned. Since then, my position has been misinterpreted as a call for indiscriminate general sanctions against the state.
I wanted to send a message about the injustice of the law that was quick and understandable — a message that would be heard and shine a glaring national light on the issue.
Separately from my targeted call for action, cities and companies around the country have made the decision not to conduct business with our state until the law is repealed. There has been a great deal of confusion about this, and supporters of SB1070 have painted me as trying to destroy the state economy for my own nefarious purposes.
This was never the case. The damage to the state's reputation and economy is the byproduct of SB1070 and the actions of the governor and Legislature.
I recently hosted a workshop on how local small businesses can access loans and assistance from governmental sources. There's no contradiction between my call for a temporary, targeted sanction against conventions and my continued and long-standing support for the local small-business community. I want Arizona to succeed and continue to raise its standard of living. I also want this to be a state where civil and constitutional rights are respected, not swept under the rug whenever someone considers it politically convenient.
At the workshop, I shared information with the community that will help our economy thrive. My aim with my call for action on the new law has the exact same goal — a goal I share with the people of Arizona. There's no reason a strong economy and respect for civil rights can't co-exist. That's the fundamental error that supporters of SB1070 are making — they believe they'll only have jobs when "suspect" groups are second-class citizens or out of the way entirely.
I don't believe the Constitution, with its strong prohibitions on unreasonable search and seizure and its praise of fairness and due process, is a dispensable document. I certainly don't consider it secondary to my own political agenda. I believe that SB 1070 is unconstitutional, and I don't believe I or anyone else should be quiet about it. Gov. Brewer herself admitted that she doesn't know what an illegal immigrant looks like — nor does anyone else. That's why Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and many other law enforcement officers around the state don't support the law. If you can't help but apply it arbitrarily, how is it supposed to make this a better place to live?
It's my proud duty as a congressman to represent the people of my district not only when things are going well, but when they're looking tough and the state needs some assistance. I consider my opposition to SB 1070 an act of public service.
Extending the business community of Southern Arizona a helping hand in this tough economy is in that same spirit of service. When the human implications of the law are forgotten, we've gone too far. I'm sorry to see Arizona in the position it's in, and I'm going to keep working to turn the ship in a better direction.
Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva represents Arizona's 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.