Immigration clause in contract causes uproar with performers at Texas music festival

The South By Southwest music festival is under fire because of a clause in its band contract relating to immigration.

The band Todd Slant pulled out of the event because the contract that reportedly says that SXSW can take action if international acts violate United States immigration law and thus “adversely affect the viability” of their performance, Fox News reported.

The language of the contract reportedly states that if acts violate the rules “South by Southwest (SXSW) will notify the appropriate U.S. immigration authorities of the above actions. International Artists entering the country through the Visa Waiver Program, 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 13-10, 2017. Accepting and performing unofficial events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by U.S. Customs Border Patrol at U.S. ports of entry.”

Felix Walworth of Todd Slant shared a picture of the contract on social media along with a rant.

“I’m not interested in aligning myself with an institution that interacts with immigration authorities as a means of controlling where art is shared and performed, and who makes money off of it,” he wrote. “This festival uses an imperialist model and prioritizes centralizing and packaging culture over communities and people’s safety. It’s no secret that SXSW has played a huge role in the process (of) Austin’s rapid gentrification. The whole festival exists to the detriment of working class people and people of color in Austin.”

In an effort to explain its position SXSW released a statement saying it opposed President Donald Trump’s travel ban and that it has had this policy since 2013 but it has only started receiving attention recently.

“In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice,” it wrote on its website. “SXSW has never reported anyone to any immigration authorities, including Customs & Border Protection (CBP), the agency that deals with participating artists entering the United States … The language in our Performance Agreement is intended to facilitate U.S. entry for international artists and to show CBP that SXSW takes visa issues seriously. This language has been part of the contracts since the summer of 2013, and we will be reviewing and amending it for 2018 and beyond.”

Other acts, Downtown Boys’ Victoria Ruiz and Joey L. De Francesco, sent an open letter to SXSW, co signed by Screaming Females, Kimya Dawson, Killer Mike, Ceremony and Ted Leo expressing outrage at the policy, according to Rolling Stone.

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Carmine Sabia

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