A tourist-magazine publisher is pushing back against nationwide Arizona boycotts with a "BUY-cott" campaign.
Tony Venuti, who publishes AZ Tourist News in print and online, is rounding up businesses and consumers to express their support of SB 1070, which requires police, as part of any stop, detention or arrest, to check peoples' immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country illegally.
Venuti, 59, says he aims to help businesses that could be hurt by calls to boycott the state.
Concerned that the law will lead to racial profiling, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva called for a boycott of the state, and several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have voted to stop business travel to Arizona.
Kimberly Schmitz of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau said it's too soon to determine how the boycott has affected the tourism industry.
Venuti says the boycotts are unreasonable and launched Arizonabuycott.com, which lists nine Arizona businesses that support the effort, including three Tucson companies: his own news organization, landscaping company Man of the Soil, and archery equipment manufacturer Precision Shooting Equipment.
Ben Astenius, who has owned and operated Man of the Soil for a decade, says he joined the "buycott" in order to help Arizona businesses hurt by political rhetoric.
He says his business has been down 90 percent in three years, mostly due to the economy. Astenius doesn't like having to compete with illegal immigrants who do the same work he does but charge lower rates.
"The biggest problem I think we have is a lot of the pricing structures out there, with illegals doing our type of jobs," he said. "It's not so much other companies hiring them. It's just little (operations), independent people."
The site also lists a Florida business that supports his cause.
Venuti is soliciting donations he says he'll use to buy billboards in rural areas that support the "buycott."
He says those who call for boycotts are off-base.
"I think they're going at it the wrong way, by hurting Arizona," he said. "Cutting their nose to spite their face."
Venuti favors securing the border and forging a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
"Arizona is America's back door," Venuti said. "When do you leave your back door open? Just because you have a 1,000-room mansion and only use three rooms, it doesn't mean you keep the back door open for just anybody."
On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/online/ multimedia for an interactive graphic showing how Americans feel about Arizona's immigration law.
"I think they're going at it the wrong way, by hurting Arizona. Cutting their nose to spite their face."
publisher, AZ Tourist News
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org