Commentary: Boycotting Arizona over immigration law isn't a good option

Angered by Arizona's wrongheaded and divisive immigration law, a growing number of California cities — most notably Los Angeles and San Francisco — have voted to boycott the Grand Canyon State.

Elected officials in those cities rightly fear that the law is a surefire recipe for racial profiling of Latinos — legal and illegal alike, including Californians visiting Arizona.

The Sacramento City Council, which heard hours of impassioned debate Tuesday night, is considering joining the boycott bandwagon as soon as next week.

But there are compelling reasons the council should think twice before severing economic ties with an entire state.

A boycott is a blunt instrument that should be used as a last resort, as it was in helping to dismantle apartheid in South Africa. In our political system, there are plenty of other effective ways for public officials to register principled opposition and reverse Arizona's law.

By contrast, boycotts hold the potential for mutually assured destruction among cities and states. Should Salt Lake City shun San Francisco because it allowed same-sex marriages? Should Phoenix blacklist Berkeley because it's a sanctuary city? Should any city ostracize another because of a controversial ordinance?

There are practical problems as well. It can be exceedingly difficult to unwind contracts without incurring a penalty or prompting lawsuits, and new vendors could very well be more expensive. With cities facing deep budget deficits ($43 million in Sacramento), this is a perilous time to be adding to the taxpayers' tab.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.