Tracker Pixel for Entry

Bands on the run

by Tom Bixby | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Editorial | March 29th, 2017

Who wouldn’t want to go to Austin for the SXSW? And not just for the music. There is joy in the air, the whole city having a street party, everyone walking from one event to another.

But many bands from other countries were refused entry into the U.S., and for a number of different reasons, or no reason was given.

These bands are not well off. The typical budget for going through the visa process, visiting and performing, is about $15 thousand. The typical group is an obscure indie band hoping to get some exposure and become a known rock entity. It’s a major project for them. They have to plan and save for many months to manage it.

David Sackllaw, writing in Consequence of Sound: “The story is always the same. A band from a foreign country is coming to make the rounds through SXSW. Days before the show, the artist has to cancel. Their visa was delayed, held up at an embassy, or denied outright. Fans are disappointed, venues lose out, and festivals either try to replace the act at the last minute or just cut their loss and eat a time slot. The band loses money — money they would have made from shows and money they’ve already spent to begin the visa process, often months earlier.”

Some bands were traveling on an ESTA, a visa waiver program for travelers, including musicians playing unpaid. ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It’s an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). U.S. Customs and Border Control agents do not have to allow ESTA holders into the country, and they don’t have to give reasons for it.

A B-1 visa is a tourist visa. In the past, bands were allowed into the U.S. with a B-1 if they were playing unpaid. This year, the bands were turned back because the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (UBP) stopped accepting ESTA and B-1, without notifying SXSW or artists who already had these documents.

Many bands were not allowed entry at the border or airport, or were not allowed to board their flight in their own country. Jazz:Refreshed, who play afro-punk jazz; United Vibrations do English shoegaze; Chilean rock band Trementina; Soviet Soviet, a three-piece post-punk band based in Pesaro, Italy; the Danish Electronic Dance Music producer ELOQ. Spanish rappers Yung Beef, Hakim Lemonhaze, AC3, Mthbts, and ElRotwa, were not allowed into the plane at Barcelona. Their visas had been cancelled days before the flight.

There are dozens more, all of them suffering career setbacks and substantial financial losses inflicted by agencies of the federal government.

Soviet Soviet were handcuffed, spent the night in jail, had their cellphones confiscated and were not allowed to contact family and friends. The next morning they were driven to the airport by police.

The UBP now considers SXSW a paid performance festival -- because admission is charged -- though the bands aren’t paid.

A foreign band now needs a P-1 visa. These are for bands coming into the U.S. for paid performances. “If an individual is a member of an internationally recognized entertainment group, they must apply for and be granted a P-1 visa.”

“In order to demonstrate that they are admissible, the applicant must overcome ALL grounds of inadmissibility.”

U.S. immigration law lists more than 60 grounds for inadmissibility, divided into several major categories, including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds.

In the past, the application process for P-1 visas was relatively straightforward. Now the applicant for a P-1 must be an individual “who possesses an extraordinary ability in the arts...and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.”

To substantiate that, they must have “received or been nominated for a significant national award in the field, or prove they meet three out of six criteria, including national or international recognition as shown by critical reviews in major newspapers or magazines, evidence of substantial remuneration as shown by contracts, and testimonials from recognized experts in the field in which they are engaged.”

Egyptian-Canadians Cherine Amr and Nancy Mounir of heavy metal band Massive Scar Era, were denied entry at the border, near Seattle. Cherine says, "We’re 100-percent independent and self-financed and the band is doing this without any support from a label.”

To Cherine, Nancy, and all the other artists who were turned back, I owe you more than an apology and I wish you a speedy recovery from this disaster.

Like many other changes these days, this doesn’t seem real. The SXSW is meant for unknown indie bands to try themselves out, and the federal government, through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is intent on destroying it.

For a long time, all of my adult life, people I met in my travels who hated the U.S. were of a type, very political and Marxist. Now we’re giving others reasons to hate us -- reasonable people with balanced points of view. If the present drift of policy continues, it won’t end well, and some of the damage will be permanent.































Recently in:

FARGO – To hundreds of Fargo’s inmates, a C-Note-sized bail might as well be a million dollars. Unaffordable.On any given day the city’s law enforcement brings those who break the law to jail. It’s their job. Some offenders…

One of the most annoying things on the web is advertising that interrupts what you are doing. I’m talking about the pop-up ads, the videos that start playing as soon as your browser opens the page. You get the idea.Well, it seems…

Thursday, February 22, 7pmFront Street Taproom, 614 Main Ave, Fargo The jazz musician and independent songwriter, making music for 20 years and performing for 10. Interesting, arranges in a dynamic and unorthodox fashion. On tour,…

Editorial

Go ask ALICE

by Sabrina Hornung

I was 14 in 1999 when Columbine happened. I remember feeling the shock, horror, and overall sickness that comes with a national tragedy of that caliber.According to a February 15, 2018 article in The Washington Post by John Woodrow…

When will we learn to share wealth?Last week I wrote about how many predictions made by Aldous Huxley in his 1932 book "Brave New World" were beginning to come true in 2018.When I read the toll to travel on Interstate 66 in…

Although the temperatures were sub zero last Sunday, the crowd and competitors were certainly on fire at the Holiday Inn in Fargo for the 5th Annual Bartenders Battle.This event has become a highlight of the year for the service…

By Melissa Martin, Ph.D. Melissamartincounselor@live.com Emotional eating refers to a range of behaviors in which individuals eat for reasons other than physiological hunger; and eating is an attempt to self-soothe emotions.…

Music

​New Direction Fest 7

by Jack Stenerson

The New Direction had no shows booked in January 2012 so one of our co-founders, Charley Wang, decided to put together the First New Direction Fest out of complete necessity. He reached out to 18 local bands to play our little…

Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi, whose 1989 debut "My Twentieth Century" won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, achieved another career highlight recently with an Oscar nomination for her most recent feature. "On Body…

In my tenure at the High Plains Reader, I have devoted a lot of column inches to promoting the local music scene of the Red River Valley. However, I would be doing an injustice if I didn’t also bring your attention to another…

By Nathan Roybardsdream@gmail.comYou are absolutely right. The title is not “To be or not to be” from the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in "Hamlet." I won’t be talking about Shakespeare particularly. I will expound the…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

“What are some of your favorite bottles of whiskey?” is a question I get asked quite frequently and is often harder to answer than one might think. One of the great rewards of my profession is getting to sample some of the…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.edu Radical: Derived from the Latin radix, which literally means the root or base. In political terms it means penetrating beyond conventional explanations and getting at the root cause of a problem.In…