SXSW to Remove Immigration Warnings from Festival Contract

Charles Bradley and The Extraordinaires perform onstage at Pandora Discovery Den during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival  (Photo: Dave Mangels/Getty Images for Pandora)

The South by Southwest festival will remove language from contracts that had warned bands and performers that U.S. immigration agents could be notified over serious contract violations.

SXSW announced the changes Tuesday ahead of the massive music, film and technology showcase starting later this week. It comes after a New York-based musician announced he was pulling out of the festival over immigration language in his contract.

Word of the contract language caused swift reaction on social media and comes amid heightened fears of immigration crackdowns under President Donald Trump.

SXSW organizers have said the clause about notifying "appropriate U.S. immigration authorities" had been a safeguard in case artists did something truly egregious, like starting a brawl or causing safety issues.

SXSW says the language will be removed starting in 2018.

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Read the SXSW's statement below:

March 7, 2017

With the announcement of President Trump’s latest Travel Ban, SXSW would like to reaffirm its public opposition to these executive orders and provide ongoing support to the artists traveling from foreign countries to our event.

To reinforce that stance, we would like to address the concerns regarding the language in our artist invitation letter and performance agreement for the SXSW Music Festival.

SXSW will do the following:

We will change the language in our artist invitation letter and performance agreement for 2018 and beyond.
We will remove the option of notifying immigration authorities in situations where a foreign artist might “adversely affect the viability of Artist’s official showcase.”
*Safety is a primary concern for SXSW, and we report any safety issues to local authorities. It is not SXSW’s duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities.
In this political climate, especially as it relates to immigration, we recognize the heightened importance of standing together against injustice.

While SXSW works to be in compliance with U.S. immigration law, it is important to know that:

SXSW has not, does not, and will not, disclose an artist’s immigration status, except when required by law.
SXSW does not have the power to deport anyone.
There are no “deportation clauses” in our current performance agreements. There will be no “deportation clauses” in our future participant agreements.
SXSW does not “collude with” any immigration agencies including ICE, CBP or USCIS to deport anyone.
Each year SXSW coordinates with hundreds of international acts coming to SXSW to try and mitigate issues at U.S. ports of entry. This year we are working to build a coalition of attorneys to assist any who face problems upon arrival in the States.
In the 31 years of SXSW’s existence, we have never reported any artist or participant to any immigration agency.
We would like to again apologize for the language in our agreements. We care deeply about the community we serve, and our event is a welcome and safe space for all people.

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