Immigration law boycott cost Ariz. $140 mln: study

PHOENIX Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:17pm EST

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A tourism and convention boycott of Arizona over its controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants has cost the state $141.4 million in lost spending, according to a study released on Thursday.

The Mexico border state passed the law in late April, ordering police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected was in the country illegally, in a bid to curb illegal immigration and border-related crime.

A majority of Americans supported the measure. But outraged opponents charged it was unconstitutional and a mandate for racial profiling, and called for an economic boycott of the desert state.

The report by the Washington-based Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, pegged losses to the state's hotel sector at $45 million from the boycott.

Lost visitor spending on items -- including food, drinks, entertainment and in-town transportation -- cost businesses an additional $96.4 million, the study reported.

A U.S. federal judge stayed the most controversial parts of the law shortly before it came into effect in late July. Arizona lodged an appeal, which is being considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The Grand Canyon state drew more than 35 million visitors in 2009 who spent more than $16.6 billion, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor, editing by Jonathan Oatis)