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SXSW commits to removing immigration clause in artist agreements in wake of new travel ban

on March 07, 2017, 5:10pm

South by Southwest has spent the past week dealing with outrage over a section about immigration in its artist contracts. Brooklyn band Told Slant pulled out of the festival after discovering what it interpreted as a “deportation clause” threatening to report international artists performing at unofficial parties or showcases to Customs & Border Protection. SXSW has since issued multiple statements clarifying the purpose and language of the clause, and today has recommitted to removing the verbiage from future contracts.

The latest comment comes in the wake of President Trump’s revised travel ban. “With the announcement of President Trump’s latest Travel Ban,” the statement reads, “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.”

The statement goes on to confirm that SXSW will change future performance agreements to “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,” the statement continues. “It is not SXSW’s duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities.

A number of musicians, including Screaming FemalesPWR BTTM, Sheer Mag, Sad13/Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis, and Jay Som, recently signed an open letter opposing the contract’s language. “We are calling on SXSW to immediately drop this clause from their contract, and cease any collusion with immigration officials that puts performers in danger,” read the letter. Though it’s understandable that it might be difficult for the festival to remove the clause from current agreements just one week out from the event, the latest statement assures performers, “There are no ‘deportation clauses’ in our current performance agreements. There will be no ‘deportation clauses’ in our future participant agreements.”

Read the complete statement below.

“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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