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Mexico Issues Travel Warning: Will Arizona Immigration Law Hurt Tourism?

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Arizona’s Monument Valley- photo by Rick SammonA travel warning has been issued Tuesday to Mexican citizens planning on visiting the state of Arizona.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department is warning Mexican visitors that because of the “adverse political environment” in Arizona, Mexican visitors including migrant communities should be cautious when visiting the state.

The warning also urges Mexican travelers to carry proper documentation with them at all time and to “act with prudence and respect for the framework of local law.”

The travel warning is a reaction to new immigration legislation passed last week.  On April 23, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the country’s toughest immigration bill into law.

The measure would make it a misdemeanor to be in Arizona without documentation that proves legal residence or visitor status. The controversial law would also require law enforcement to check the legal statues of anyone suspected of being in Arizona illegally.

Two Mittens, Arizona - Photo by Rick SammonThe Foreign Relations Department said that once the law was in effect, Mexican visitors could be detained if they failed to carry documentation.

And while the details of the law’s enforcement are not yet finalized, the travel alert warns visitors that “it should be assumed that any Mexican citizen could be bothered and questioned for no other reason at any moment.”

Of course, it’s not just Mexicans who could be potential victims of interrogation by law enforcement. Anyone generating “reasonable suspicion” of not being American could be required to show documentation. In 2008, almost 700,000 tourists visited Arizona from overseas–and they would all be required to produce their visa upon request.

Explore Arizona’s natural beauty with Landscape Photography of Arizona

Nearly 4 million legal Mexican visitors travel to Arizona annually and contribute to the state’s $18 billion tourist industry.

Arizona's Monument Valley - photo by Rick SammonIn a report commissioned by the Arizona Office of Tourism, it was estimated that tourism from Mexico accounts for almost $1 billion dollars annually.

Between 2007 and 2008, legal Mexican visitors spent $7.3 million a day in Arizona. Regular shopping trips by Mexican families in Tucson resulted in a 245 percent increase to the city’s economy since 2001.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department is not the only government agency responding to  Arizona’s immigration legislation. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is voting today on a resolution to end contracts between the city and businesses in Arizona.

Arizona is no stranger to economic or travel boycotts. From 1990 to 1993, the state lost 170 conventions and $300 million because of its failure to approve a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Arthur Frommer, the founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide empire, personally boycotted the state after seeing firearms being openly carried at an Obama speech last year.

By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related links: Newser.com, Univ. of Arizona report, CBS-3, Christian Science Monitor

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