Dem senators urge SXSW to leave Texas over immigration law

Two Democratic senators are calling on the head of the South by Southwest (SXSW) music and technology festival to relocate the annual event to a different state over a new Texas law allowing officials to request the immigration status of detained individuals.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) said in a letter to SXSW CEO Roland Swenson that Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which was signed into law last month by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R), goes “against what SXSW stands for.”

“More importantly, this law stands diametrically opposed to the spirit of SXSW. Throughout its 31 years, SXSW has been a beacon of consistency, standing with artists and participants regarding equality, tolerance, and safety during events,” the pair wrote.


“SB4, however, would not allow SXSW to be a safe place for immigrants and Americans alike to visit, participate, and enjoy; the culture and safety of the event would be greatly diminished if your attendants are faced with the humiliation and harassment that this new law would inflict,” they added.

“In sum, SB4 harms public safety and trust by diverting precious law enforcement resources away from public safety and opens the door to racial profiling.”

Thousands of attendees as well as politicians, artists and technology executives attend the event held each year in Austin.

Citing the large Hispanic immigrant population in Texas, Masto and Menendez asked Swenson to move the festival to another state until the law is repealed, a proposal he rejected.

“We agree with the Senators that the law stands diametrically opposed to the spirit of SXSW and respect their call to action. We understand why, in today’s political climate, people are asking us to leave Texas,” Swenson said in a statement Wednesday.

“For us, this is not a solution. Austin is our home and an integral part of who we are. We will stay here and continue to make our event inclusive while fighting for the rights of all,” he added.

The enacted legislation makes certain local law enforcement officials eligible for misdemeanor charges if they choose not to adhere to federal requests to keep in custody non-citizens who are subject to deportation.

Updated: 4:36 p.m.

Tags Bob Menendez SXSW Texas

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