SXSW 2017: What people are saying about immigration agreement language change

South by Southwest announced Tuesday afternoon that it will change the language in its performance agreement and invitation letter next year, including the removal of one of the most criticized phrases.

TINA PHAN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN. 03/21/15. Fans cheer for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as they perform at the Rachael Ray Feedback Party at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, TX during South by Southwest (SXSW) on Saturday, March 21, 2015.

Here’s the full statement, as per the fest’s website:

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.

Last week, the festival took a lot of heat on social media and in the national press after Brooklyn-based artist Felix Walworth tweeted a segment of SXSW’s performance agreement that said the fest would notify immigration authorities if any non-American band or act playing the fest acted up during their stay in Austin.

After the language reversal news broke Tuesday afternoon, several people had something to say on social media. Here are some of the best responses, pulled from Facebook, Twitter and reddit.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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