Denouncing Arizona

Community Values Forum Speakers Also Question Local Impoundments

Local politicians, scholars, and community organizers denounced Arizona’s recently passed immigration law May 16 at a Forum for Community Values hosted by PUEBLO, with some elected officials endorsing boycotts of the state.

Santa Barbara City Councilman Das Williams, who is also running as a Democrat for a California State Assembly seat, and First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal both endorsed a boycott of Arizona.

“I will be asking the Board of Supervisors to look at all business with Arizona and cease all business in the future,” Carbajal said.

Williams said he would propose to exclude the Navajo Nation, an Indian reservation in northern Arizona, from the boycott.

“If people have a problem with laws that are so racist,” Williams said, “they should choose other places to visit, like Santa Barbara.”

Goleta City Councilmember Ed Easton said Goleta might consider a similar sort of boycott. “Goleta might take this up too,” Easton said. “I’ll see what can be done.”

Arizona has already been the target of boycotts by a number of city councils and businesses following the April 23 passage of the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, an anti-illegal immigration law that would require people to carry identification and documentation at all times proving their right to be in the U.S.

While speakers at this event, hosted in Saint Raphael Catholic Church in Goleta, universally blasted the bill, they also focused on issues affecting migrant workers in the Santa Barbara community.

Greg Prieto, a UCSB sociology graduate student, said checkpoints intended to catch drunk drivers results in the impoundments of a large number of cars driven by perfectly sober but undocumented workers, who cannot get drivers’ licenses. “The disproportionate and growing impact of impounds on the Latino and undocumented community is to breed fear, insecurity, and distrust,” Prieto said. According to Prieto’s research, presented in PowerPoint form to an audience of about 100, the number of cars taken from unlicensed drivers far outstripped the number taken from drunk drivers.

“Unlicensed driver are not like drunk drivers and should not be treated the same way,” Prieto said, adding that the law indicates that the police don’t have to tow a car if a licensed driver can remove it within a certain amount of time, but police seldom choose that option.

Impounds have been an ongoing issue, Williams commented, and he hopes to work with the police department to shift the timing of sobriety checkpoints. “I want to look at what time the checkpoints are,” Williams said. “I want to have them in the evening or night when you can nab drunk drivers.”

Santa Barbara Police Lieutenant Brent Mandrell said he was saddened to hear of the impact of the impoundments on the local community, and hoped a solution could be reached soon. “We can only move forward here,” Mandrell said.

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