As all Democrats and many Republicans predicted SB 4, the “Sanctuary City-Show Me Your Papers” law, that Governor Abbott signed into law is already drawing major attention from 2 Senators who want the venue moved out of Texas.
U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) sent a letter to Roland Swenson, CEO of the internationally renowned festival, asking that SXSW be moved due to safety issues not only for immigrants but also because of racial profiling of the hispanic community.
You can read the entire letter at the link at the end of this paragraph but here is just a brief section which explains exactly why both senators feel SXSW should be moved: “In America we believe that people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, but that is not what SB4 does. As we saw in previous failed attempts by states that tried to adopt “show me your papers” legislation, these laws essentially legalize discrimination based on the color of your skin or the way you speak. If SB4 is implemented on September 1, 2017, Texas residents and those who travel to Texas to attend your festival may be subject to constitutional violations if stopped by law enforcement. SB4 would allow local police officers to question a person’s immigration status during any detention or arrest, including a routine traffic stop. This will subject U.S. citizens and non-citizens to racial profiling and discrimination. Additionally, the law would remove elected or appointed officials from office who actively speak against local law-enforcement enforcing federal immigration laws or who do not cooperate with the new law. SB4 would also fine local municipalities up to $25,500 for noncompliance with these new harsh policies and law enforcement would face jail time and fines if they do not obey federal detainer requests.” link
At SXSW in March of this year many groups pulled out of the event because of the following section in the artist’s contract for the event. “International Artists entering the country through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), B visa or any non-work visa may not perform at any public or non-sanctioned SXSW Music Festival DAY OR NIGHT shows in Austin from March 13-19, 2017. Accepting and performing unofficial events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US points of entry,”
Because of this section of the SXSW contract “Told Slant” tweeted to their followers that they were dropping out of the event tweeting “ After looking through this contract sent to me by SXSW I have decided to cancel Told Slant’s performance at the festival” link
Since writing this article this morning SXSW co-founder and CEO Roland Swenson has come out and said the conference is staying put, but he and his supporters will continue to fight against the law from Austin. “We stand by the City of Austin in their challenge against SB4 and will continue to speak out against it, and all discriminatory legislation,” he said in an email. “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. 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.”link
It’s quite obvious that Governor Abbott is not concerned about the citizens of Texas but protecting his GOP agenda to attack undocumented immigrants who live in or visit Texas.
Since I began writing this article The American Immigration Lawyers Association has announced it is relocating its 2018 convention from Grapevine,Texas to another state because of SB 4. About 3,000 people were expected to attend the event out of their 15,000 members. AILA president Bill Stock announced SB 4’s “dangerous, destructive and counter productive proposals” go against the group’s mission.
During a conference call with reporters AILA president Bill Stock stated “One of the issues that drove the board’s decision was concern on behalf of quite a number of our members that they might not be willing to bring themselves or their families to Texas. Our members are US citizens and green card holders but many of them come from ethnic communities where they felt that they [would] being unfairly targeted.”link
As I stated in a previous article Governor Abbott spoke at a GOP dinner in Belton, TX this week and said “As I was coming up here from Austin, Texas, tonight, I got to tell you, it’s great to be out of the People’s Republic of Austin. As you leave Austin and start heading north, you start feeling different. Once you cross the Travis County line, it starts smelling different. And you know what that fragrance is? Freedom. It’s the smell of freedom that does not exist in Austin, Texas.That said, with your senators and legislators, I can tell you that today, Austin is more free than it was before the legislative session began because the state of Texas passed laws that overrode the liberal agenda of Austin, Texas, that is trying to send Texas down the pathway of California. As your governor, I will not allow Austin, Texas, to Californiaize the Lone Star State. “We worked on ensuring that we kept every person in the state safe, every man, woman and child, and that meant we had to confront a problem that began festering in Austin, Texas, and began to spread across the state. It meant that we had to pass a ban on sanctuary city policies. This will stop officials like Sanctuary Sally in Travis County, Texas, who was releasing dangerous criminals out of jail, back out on the street. People who have committed crimes like rape. My view is if you don’t want to enforce the law, you shouldn’t be involved in law enforcement.” link
With Texas having the second-largest immigrant population in the country immigrants in the state earned $118.7 billion and paid $29.1 billion in taxes in 2014, leaving them with a spending power of $89.6 billion. Obviously Abbott’s only concern is his GOP base and not the lives and the tremendous contribution that immigrants make to the Texas economy. Austin has always been a city founded on diversity, inclusivity, a city open to every person from any type of background from any region in the world. A city of music, theater, great food and “Keeping Austin Weird.” Thankfully lawsuits are already being filed against Abbott and the state of Texas where SB 4 will hopefully be found unconstitutional and Austin can return to the open inclusive personality that’s it has always exuded.