Local Politics

Durham passes ban over Arizona immigration law

Posted June 21, 2010 3:59 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2010 11:28 a.m. EDT

— Phoenix is more than 2,000 miles from Durham, but the Bull City took a stand Monday on Arizona's controversial new immigration law.

The law, which goes into effect next month, will require law enforcement officers in Arizona to ask anyone whom they detain or arrest about their immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion that they are in the country illegally.

Nate Goetz, chairman of Durham's Human Relations Commission, asked the Durham City Council to ban travel to Arizona for city business until the law is repealed. The resolution passed 6-1 Monday evening.

"We are sending a message to Arizona that we are not going to tolerate their decision to enact this legislation," Goetz said.

City Councilman Eugene Brown voted against the ban and argued that Arizona law was none of Durham's business.

"I wasn't elected to vote on this type of situation. We've got more than enough challenges here in Durham to deal with," Brown said before the council meeting.

Brown introduced a resolution asking lawmakers to look at federal immigration reform.

"Immigration is a federal – repeat, a federal – responsibility, not a state (one), and it is sure as hell not the responsibility of the Durham City Council," he said.

Still, Goetz said that fear is spreading within Durham's Latino community about the immigration law and whether something similar could happen in North Carolina.

"Once it comes into our neighborhoods, it has everything to do with Durham, and it's come into our neighborhoods," he said.

A travel ban will likely have little economic impact on Arizona, Durham spokeswoman Beverly Thompson said, as only three people have traveled there in the last two years for city business.

Durham has no long-term contracts with Arizona businesses and would comply with state laws governing purchases of materials or supplies from Arizona vendors, Thompson said.