Two United States Senators have sent a letter encouraging South by Southwest organizers to move the festival out of Texas, the Austin-based event’s regular host state. The goal of the proposition: to resist (and protect the public from) President Donald Trump’s highly controversial SB4 law, which Texas law enforcement plans to begin implicating in September.
In a letter to festival CEO Roland Swenson (not to be confused with a store-brand knockoff of a certain Parks And Recreation character), Senators Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada urged the mogul to consider shifting the event to another state in wake of the anti-immigration bill’s passing.
Not solely focused on the political plate shifts the move might provoke, the two democrats also pointed out the risks heightened scrutiny could pose for many attendees given the festival’s location. As of 2013, over 10 percent of the United States’ internationally-born population resides in Texas, making the state’s hottest music festival a seemingly obvious target for the soon-to-be-amplified anti-immigration efforts.
The law in question is most well-known for it’s ban on sanctuary cities, instead obligating all local officials to crack down on undocumented immigrants with the same vigor that law enforcement at the federal level might be responsible for exercising. In addition to potential civil rights breeches, those concerned with the law have cited the implication that all local officials (including city council members and campus security guards) would be directly on the hook for reporting immigrants and deviant peers as evidence that SB4 could be impractical and dangerous.
It is for these reasons that protesters have taken to Texas streets to push back, motivating some lawmakers to take it upon themselves to represent their cause in action. The two senators proposing the relocation of SXSW as a creative form of a resistance are both members of the Latino community themselves, giving the pair an even stronger personal tie to their efforts.