Top California lawmaker wants to sever ties with Ariz. |

Top California lawmaker wants to sever ties with Ariz.

Cathy Bussewitz
Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – One of California’s top legislative leaders called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday to review the state’s contracts with Arizona and cancel them if legally possible, as a protest against that state’s new immigration law.

In a letter to the governor, state Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said the recently signed law attempts to legalize racial profiling.

“I think we have a moral obligation to deliver an unequivocal message to lawmakers in Arizona that California does not condone its conduct,” Steinberg wrote.

The law allows police officers to question anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, and makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

Steinberg asked Schwarzenegger to provide details about California’s contracts with any business or government in Arizona. He wrote that he doubts that the state law is constitutional, but it could take years for courts to resolve that question.

Schwarzenegger has not yet replied but told reporters that immigration matters are the responsibility of the federal government.

“I urge the federal government to get their act together,” the governor said in a news conference.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear added that the administration received the letter but does not yet have an opinion.

“We need to determine how this idea would affect our budget and job-creation efforts,” McLear said in an e-mail. “The governor does not support the Arizona law, but the only real solution is for the federal government to produce a comprehensive immigration policy for the entire country.”

California and Arizona have extensive interaction.

The state Department of General Services, the state’s main procurement arm, identified 73 private companies based in Arizona to which California has awarded contracts. Those contracts were worth a combined $10.3 million in the past year and included computer manufacturers, human resources companies, a fertilizer maker, a publishing house, janitorial suppliers and others.

However, they do not represent all of California’s contracts with Arizona, department spokesman Jeffrey Young said.

Some departments, such as the California Department of Transportation and the Department of Water Resources, can enter contracts without approval from the Department of General Services, he said.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Arizona houses 4,124 of the state’s inmates in private prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Because the company is based in Nashville, Tenn., it’s unclear whether the inmates would be affected.

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