PHOENIX - A pair of non-Arizonans are riding to the rescue of the Grand Canyon State, intent on saving the economy from the threat of a boycott by opponents of the new immigration enforcement law.
Gina Louden of St. Louis, organizer of the Buycott Arizona Campaign, and Phillip Dennis, founder of the Dallas Tea Party, hope to persuade others from across the country to come to Arizona this holiday weekend and spend some money to show they support the tough new law.
Louden said the state and its businesses are under attack from those who oppose SB 1070. Several groups have canceled conventions and conferences scheduled for the state, and some businesses with a major Arizona presence are being targeted for boycotts.
She said she hopes her campaign, which includes a rally Saturday night in Tempe, counteracts all that.
Dennis said his group's interest is its belief that laws need to be obeyed.
"If we don't follow the immigration laws, why should Americans follow tax laws or traffic laws or any other law?" he asked.
"There are consequences for not following those laws," Dennis continued. "I think Arizona's a perfect example of those negative consequences."
At a Phoenix news conference to promote the rally, Louden said, "I know that patriotic people love to talk with their pocketbooks."
She said her group has proved that point before, citing a boycott of Whole Foods after the company CEO criticized the Obama health-care plan. She said her group managed to counter that boycott, to the point that the firm's stock actually increased in value.
"My guess is if enough patriots join this effort, we'll be able to offset any damage (boycotters) will be able to do," Louden said.
But Louden said the issue is more than just Arizona and its fight against illegal immigration.
"Arizona we feel is America's Alamo in the fight against illegal and dangerous entry into the United States," she said.
"Our border guards and all of Arizona law enforcement are undermanned, undergunned, taxed to the limit, front-line defenders trying to hold back the invasion," Louden continued.
"We are calling on all America, from the president to every consumer to defend our Alamo in the best way that they have to do so," she said, which in this case means supporting Arizona financially.
The rally, set for Saturday evening at Tempe Diablo Stadium, comes just hours after a planned march in Phoenix by opponents of the law. March supporters have predicted crowds of up to 50,000.
Attorney Antonio Bustamante, one of those organizing the anti-1070 march, said part of what they are hoping to do is educate people on how racial profiling will be used to enforce SB 1070.
The law requires police, when practicable, to investigate those they reasonably suspect are not in this country legally when the suspect is stopped for another reason. The current version prohibits police from using race, ethnicity or national origin as one factor in deciding whom to question.
Bustamante said, though, the law still says race and these factors can be used to the extent permitted by the state and federal constitutions, and courts have allowed these to be used as one of several criteria for police to make decisions on whom to question.
He was not persuaded by the fact that racial profiling is, itself, illegal. Bustamante said profiling remains as prevalent "as popcorn is at a movie theater."
Dennis would say only that 1070 backers hope for "thousands," at their event.
He said it's immaterial if more people march against the law than show up at the stadium, citing polls showing that a majority of Americans support the law.