Austin Mayor Steve Adler released a letter yesterday addressed to “All Good People in the World” following two U.S. Senators’ call for South by Southwest to relocate their annual festival out of Texas until Senate Bill 4 is repealed or overturned by the courts.
Adler said asking SXSW to leave Austin “is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
The bill, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law on May 7, permits Texas law enforcement to ask people they detain about their immigration status.
U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D–NJ) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) sent a letter to SXSW CEO Roland Swenson that read: “SB 4… would not allow SXSW to be a safe place for immigrants and Americans alike to visit, participate, and enjoy.”
The festival is staying put, but could SB 4 have a major economic impact on Texas?
Sherri Greenberg, a clinical professor and Fellow of the Max Sherman Chair in State and Local Government at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs, says that it’s hard to know what the economic repercussions of SB 4 will be.
She says that it could be on par with the economic repercussions North Carolina has faced over its “bathroom bill.” Economists predicted that bill could cost the state more than $3.7 billion to its economy over the next decade.
Greenberg points to the Wednesday announcement by the American Immigration Lawyers Association that it would cancel its planned 2018 conference in Grapevine, TX, as an example of how SB 4 could impact Texas.
“That’s about a $3 million hit,” she says. The conference would have brought 3,000 people to the state.
Greenberg says the Texas Association of Business, which represents a broad range of businesspeople, has spoken out against the economic impact of SB 4.
“We do live in a democracy, but we also live in a situation where we cannot wall ourselves off,” Greenberg says. “Even though we live in a state or a city, we are depending on, from an economic standpoint, many many factors.”
Written by Molly Smith.