Dozens of artists, including Immortal Technique, Ted Leo, and Anti-Flag, have signed an open letter to South By Southwest calling for the festival to remove a controversial clause in the performance contract threatening deportation for acts that play unofficial shows.
Musician Felix Walworth of indie band Told Slant tweeted out a screenshot the festival contract sent by SXSW that reads that "accepting and performing unofficial events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by US Customs Border Patrol at US ports of entry."
You can read the tweet here.
SXSW responded, saying in part "there is language in the Performance Agreement which is included to inform foreign artists that the U.S. immigration authorities have mechanisms to create trouble for artists who ignore U.S. immigration laws. For example, those acts coming to SXSW to perform without a work visa are limited, by U.S. immigration law, to performing their showcase event only. If an artist wishes to perform elsewhere, they will require a work visa."
That's what "taking visa issues seriously" means: immediate deportation. This is the line in the sand that sxsw is very consciously drawing.— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) March 4, 2017
People have taken to social media to react.
We have artists from 62 countries from around the world performing and have always supported our international music community.
The festival also made firm their stance on President Donald Trump's travel ban, which has added tension to any talks of deportation: "SXSW has been vocal in its opposition to President Trump’s Travel Ban and is working hard to build a coalition of attorneys to assist artists with issues at U.S. ports of entry during the event.
SXSW added: "We have artists from 62 countries from around the world performing and have always supported our international music community. We have never reported international showcasing artists to immigration authorities."
The festival also says it plans to revise next year's contracts.
The letter, published Friday, calls for SXSW to remove the clause from their contract and "cease any collusion with immigration officials that puts performers in danger."
Music knows no borders. SXSW bullying bands who have members that are not U.S. citizens is chilling, and frankly racist.
Petition urging SXSW to "stop threatening international bands" has nearly 3,000 signatures.