The Board of Governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) voted on June 7 to move the association’s 2018 annual conference from Grapevine, Texas, to another state.
The move is in response to the a recently passed Senate Bill 4 in Texas, also known as the “sanctuary cities” measure, which—according to The Texas Tribune—“would allow local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they legally detain or arrest.” It is set to go into effect in September.
AILA released an official statement on its website announcing the decision to move the event.
“It is no small matter to cancel the venue for a professional conference with more than 3,000 attendees,” said AILA President William Stock, as presented within the AILA press release.
“In the end, our Board decided it could not ask AILA members, and in many cases their families, to attend a conference in the state which has passed SB4 into law. SB4 serves no legitimate purpose and undermines our country’s principles of fairness, due process, and equal treatment under the law.
“By championing this bill and signing it into law, [Texas] Governor [Greg] Abbott has continued the scapegoating of immigrants and the communities that welcome them, rather than acknowledging the immense benefits that immigrants bring to our nation and the shared prosperity which follows.”
A number of Texas cities and destinations are protesting the passage of SB4, including San Antonio, El Paso and El Cenzio (a small border town), which are all filing lawsuits over the legislation to prevent it from going into effect. Austin joined the San Antonio lawsuit, and El Cenzio is being backed by the ACLU.
Dallas also announced its intention to join San Antonio and Austin in the legal challenge against SB4.
Democratic Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada sent a letter to South by Southwest (SXSW) CEO and co-founder Roland Swenson asking him to relocate the 2018 festival. Organizers of SXSW later announced they would not move the festival from Austin.