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Austin divests itself from Arizona

Good for them.

The Austin City Council decided Thursday to end business and travel ties with the state of Arizona to protest a new state law that will allow law enforcement officers there to detain people they suspect are in the country illegally.

There was little discussion before the resolution passed unanimously . Two people showed up to speak in favor of it; none spoke against.

The resolution, proposed by Council Member Mike Martinez , calls for ending all city business travel to Arizona, unless it is related to police investigations, providing humanitarian aid or protecting Austinites’ health and safety. It also asks the city manager to review all city business with and investments in the state of Arizona and devise a plan to end them.


Austin has no contracts with or investments in the state of Arizona, according to memos from city controller Diana Thomas . Forty-eight employees in six city departments, including council offices, Austin Energy and the police department, took 20 business trips to Arizona over the past year, at a cost of $47,908.

Obviously, that’s not a lot of commerce. The symbolism matters, though, and the fact that it’s not that much means it ought to be a not-too-difficult decision for an interested city council to make. And if enough cities do it, the cumulative effect will be nontrivial. As only the Mayor can add an item to Houston City Council’s agenda, any action here would have to originate from that office. Drop a note to Mayor Parker at [email protected], or contact your Council member and ask him or her to ask the Mayor about it if you want to see it happen here.

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