SXSW Responds: ‘We do not have the power to deport anyone.’

South by Southwest (SXSW) Issues Statements (Austin Airport pictured)
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South by Southwest (SXSW) Issues Statements (Austin Airport pictured)
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Austin Airport, before the crowds (Nicholas Wang CC 2.0)

South by Southwest (SXSW) has issued its strongest statement yet amidst growing immigration and foreign visa concerns.

In response to continued concerns surrounding foreign bands, possible visa problems, and even deportations, South by Southwest has issued the following statement.

“SXSW Statement Regarding Commitment to Our International Artists

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.”

[end of statement]

And, be sure to check our earlier coverage on this issue:

+ March 3rd: Why Foreign Artists Are Freaking Out About SXSW

+ March 7th: Why Did FBI Director James Comey Suddenly Pull Out of SXSW?

And stay tuned for ongoing updates!

2 Responses

  1. music stowaway

    That’s a very open and welcoming response to concerns held by some of the foreign bans/artists that may be thinking of traveling to the US.

    In generality, any band/artist traveling to the US must follow proper procedure
    with regard to Visa’s and honest disclosure of any information that may impact
    authorized entry into the US.

    M Magazine have just published a new article about this subject:


    Unless they have a valid Visa; ICE WILL be all over SXSW. That’s how the Trump administration rolls these days.

    I have a ton of friends from Central America who literally send thousands of dollars back to their families each year from working low-wage jobs Americans will not take.

    SXSW has zero control over who ICE randomly decides to deport from the US. Sad.