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4 Aug, 2010 07:09

Arizona economy booming despite controversy

The US state of Arizona has become synonymous with immigration protests, and now there’s another word floating around—“boycott.”

 But considering how many people have flooded into Arizona over the past few months to protest for or against the law, most businesses aren’t really suffering.

Restaurant owner Michael Monti said he’s seeing business as usual.

"Unless they pack their own lunch it's pretty contradictory to pour into a state that you're boycotting. I suppose they're working up quite an appetite with those tantrums they're throwing downtown, so maybe they'll drop by for a meal,” Monti said. “It's very hard to tease out any discernible effect of the boycott. Our numbers are stable compared to last year right now."

Monti’s has been a Phoenix institution since 1871 and boasts the oldest building in this part of Arizona. General Manager Jerry Cazares has a unique take on the immigration issue.

"I was born in Michoacan, Mexico and I came to the US in 1976 at the age of 6," said Cazares. “What [the Arizona lawmakers] are trying to do is try to do the right thing for the state and what hasn't been done by the federal government….Our local area has been overpopulated with a lot of the Hispanic community, and it just seems to be out of control."

This perspective is one that is often underreported, or not reported at all, but many locals find what is reported in the press out of touch with the reality on the ground.

“We have a leftist-type press that runs around here saying that this isn't right…well why are they saying that?" asked one Arizona resident.

"My sales have increased, said business manager Micki Henningsen. “People are calling me and telling me that they want to support Arizona, they want to buy a flag or pins that have a state flag on them and show support for Arizona."

Nevada resident Daniel Levar was so intrigued about what was going on in Arizona, he decided to come and see for himself.

"I came here to be enlightened a little bit. I think this is a trial. I think it's a good trial. I think it will bring a lot of issues to the surface that nobody wants to talk about,” said Levar.

But in Arizona, some people are willing to talk about it.

“I'm angry for the government for allowing the illegals. We see an influx of people coming in now…what were they waving? They were waving the Mexican flag, the Cuban flag. If they want to be Americans, they better wave the American flag. We would not think of going to their country and waving our flag around demanding rights that we're not entitled to," said Buffalo Rick Galeener of the Riders United for a Sovereign America.

So what's the solution?

"Go back to wherever you came from," said Albert Fernandez of the Riders group.

"I say don't let the fence hit them on the way out. Just go. Come back when you're legal,” said an Arizona resident.

But if you’re legal, you’re welcome in Arizona.

“I'm happy to have everybody come to Arizona and visit Arizona. It's a great state and we have a lot to offer and I'm doing great business because of it,” said Micki Henningsen.