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Deciding vote on proposed L.A. County boycott of Arizona appears to be Ridley-Thomas

May 28, 2010 | 12:49 pm
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/images/2008/03/20/mark_ridleythomas_2.jpgWith his fellow county supervisors split 2-2 on whether Los Angeles County should boycott Arizona in protest of its controversial immigration law, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will be in a position to cast the deciding vote Tuesday.

Supervisor Don Knabe announced Friday that he will join Supervisor Mike Antonovich -- who called the proposal "stupid" -- in opposing the boycott.

Supervisor Gloria Molina, with support from Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, this week proposed suspending county-funded travel to Arizona unless the county’s chief executive determines it would seriously harm county interests. The boycott also calls for a divestiture of Arizona’s state and municipal bonds by the county’s pension fund.

“While I agree with my colleagues on the board that our national immigration system is broken and in desperate need of repair, I do not agree with their response to Arizona's recent legislation, and I will not support their motion on Tuesday,” Knabe said. “To simply call for a boycott of an entire state is a rash and misguided reaction to what they view as a bad law.”

Ridley-Thomas’ spokesman, Ed Maddox, said Friday that his boss did not plan to publicly take a position on the issue until Tuesday. Ridley-Thomas has supported boycotts in the past, and worked as a city councilman to uphold Los Angeles’ boycott of South Africa during apartheid.

The Arizona law requires police to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop and suspect is in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime to lack proper immigration papers.

Top U.S. Justice Department officials have drafted a legal challenge asserting that Arizona's law is unconstitutional because it impinges on the federal government's authority to police the nation's borders.

-- Garrett Therolf

Photo: L.A. Times file