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Arizona immigration law: Will Mexico boycotts cripple trade?

Mexico boycotts in response to the Arizona immigration law may put a dent in trade with Arizona's No. 1 partner.

By Staff writer / April 28, 2010

Arizona immigration law: Federal immigration agents stand outside Sergio's Shuttle in Phoenix, in this April 15 file photo. The van shuttle services offer transportation from northern Mexico to cities in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Matt York/AP/File


Mexico City

Mexican boycotts in response to the Arizona immigration law are blooming like desert wildflowers.

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The Mexican state of Sonora canceled a cross-border meeting to be held in Phoenix in June – the first time the annual gathering will be interrupted in more than 50 years.

Independent truckers are saying they refuse to transport goods into or out of the state of Arizona.

IN PICTURES: The US/Mexico border

After the Mexican government issued a “travel alert” for Mexicans there, some Mexicans are reconsidering vacations in the state.

The new law that Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed last week, makes it a state crime to be in Arizona without legal permission and obligates authorities to check the paperwork of those they believe in the country illegally. It has set off calls for boycotts and economic and political punishment across Mexico, and threatens to undermine the trust of Mexicans toward the border state.

“It is harmful for the state of Arizona,” says Alejandro Díaz-Bautista, a professor of economics at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana. “It will cost some jobs. It sends the wrong message to investors in the state. It will impact tourism.”

No. 1 trading partner

Fernando Jimenez, the director of trade and investment for the Americas for the Arizona Department of Commerce, says that in 2009, nearly $4.5 billion worth of products were exported from the state to Mexico, which is Arizona’s No. 1 trading partner. That includes semiconductor chips, machinery, and plastics.

“Trade with Mexico is extremely important for our state,” he says.

Also, nearly 40 percent of fruits of vegetables imported to the US from Mexico pass through Arizona, according to research by the Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

If boycotts from Mexico become widespread, it could hurt the state economy.

Cesar Nava, the president of Mr. Calderon’s ruling National Action Party, called on Mexicans to abstain from visiting Arizona, in protest of the legislation and in solidarity with Mexicans already there.

More threats could come in the days ahead. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose government condemned the law, said that trade and political ties will be “seriously affected.”