SAN ANTONIO - Two U.S. senators are calling on South by Southwest coordinators to relocate the annual music and tech event after the passage of the controversial Senate Bill 4, also known as the "Show Me Your Papers" law.
Sens. Bob Menendez and Catherine Cortez Masto asked coordinators on Tuesday to consider moving the event out of Austin until the law is repealed or overturned by the courts.
The two-page letter, addressed to SXSW CEO Roland Swenson, thanked Swenson for speaking out against "hash immigration policies" before calling on the executive to relocate the 2018 festival.
"It is because of your willingness to stand up for what is right that we write to respectfully request you consider relocating the 2018 South by Southwest Conference and Festivals to a different state," the letter said.
The letter called the legislation "one of the most extreme anti-immigrant and discriminatory state laws signed to date."
"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," the letter said.
The letter noted that Texas has the second-largest immigrant population in the country. "In 2014, immigrants in Texas earned $118.7 billion and paid over $29.1 billion in taxes, leaving them with a spending power of $89.6 billion," it said.
After the senators issued a statement, Steve Adler, the Mayor of Austin, spoke out against the idea.
"...I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — because now people think it’s a good idea to protest SB4 by asking SXSW to leave Austin, which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,"
Swenson also issued a statement saying while SXSW respects the two senator's call to action, leaving Texas is not the answer.
"For us this is not a solution," Swenson said. "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."
Swenson said SXSW stands by the City of Austin in it's challenge against SB4 and will "continue to speak out against discriminatory legislation."
Read SXSW's statement in full below:
We stand by the City of Austin in their challenge against SB4 and will continue to speak out against it, and all discriminatory legislation.
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.
The senators' letter can be read in full below:
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