Trump’s Immigration Policies Are Ruining Festivals Like SXSW

Murder by guitar – one two three
Murder by guitar – in the first degree
Murder by guitar – inside your head
Murder by guitar – na-na-na-na-now you’re dead

CRIME: “Murder By Guitar” written by Johnny Strike, 1977

Since self-proclaimed immigration opponent Donald Trump (who curiously, hired undocumented immigrants as laborers on multiple occasions) has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, appalling accounts of deportations have been surfacing like mushrooms on a forest floor. The most ridiculous incident occurred on March 8, 2017, when Italian post-punk trio Soviet Soviet, scheduled to play at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas along with dates in Southern California and Seattle, endured injustice from United States Customs and Border Protection officials in Seattle.

Soviet Soviet had secured visa waivers via Department of Homeland Security’s program and had disclosed that they were not accepting payment for the gigs, even traveling a letter from their record label saying as much. Unfortunately, when the government agents learned that attendees of the band’s shows apart from South by Southwest would be charged admission, they decided that Soviet Soviet were ineligible for entry into the U.S.

According to a statement posted to Facebook shortly after the ordeal:

“We made our way to passport control with our ESTA, a letter from our American label (in which the label owner declared we would be performing a series of concerts for promotional purposes only and that we would in no way be receiving any form of payment for those shows) and a written invitation on the part of SxSw in hand. The first of us to get through passport control was Ale (our drummer), who disclosed the promotional purposes of our trip to the police officer.

“Ale (our guitarist) and Andrea who both explained the exact same thing were held up and escorted to another office. Subsequently, we were all called back and interrogated individually, in three different rooms. We were able to have the agents speak directly to the owner of our American label without any success, however. After almost 4 hours of questions they told us their verdict. They had decided to deport us back to Italy and deny us entry into the United States. They declared us illegal immigrants even if our intention was by no means to look for work in the United States nor never go back to Italy.

“We accepted this decision as it seemed final at that point. They took our digital fingerprints and took mugshots of us for their file. They confiscated our cell phones and we were denied the possibility of contacting our families and loved ones. Around 10:30pm, two prison officers frisked us, handcuffed us and brought us to jail in a police car. We spent the night in jail and had been escorted there as though we were three criminals. The following day, after having completed all jail-related procedures (mugshots, declaration of good health and signatures), two other agents came to get us. We were searched, handcuffed and again escorted in a police car.

“They took us to the customs office we were in the previous day and we waited for our return flight which was scheduled for around 1:00pm local time. Only a short while prior to taking off were we able to get back our cell phones and bags and we were escorted right up to the airplane. We were relieved to fly back home and distance ourselves from that violent, stressful and humiliating situation.”

Being that Soviet Soviet’s only motive was to promote their music, this incident clearly shows that President Trump’s motivation to protect the border is a false pretext. From what can be seen, it’s clear that Trump and his minions just want any excuse to use fascist, nationalistic bully tactics, as evidently the agents involved in border security are instructed to believe that all foreigners are potentially criminal, despite the fact that they commit crimes at a far lower rate than native-born U.S. citizens. Sadly, in a country where Muhammad Ali, Jr. the son of the late heavyweight boxing champion and civil rights icon, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, therefore a U.S. citizen, has twice been detained at airports by U.S. government officials this year – once in Fort Lauderdale, the other time at Ronald Reagan Airport in Arlington, Virginia, such blatant and wasteful overreach is bound to happen.

Watch one of their music videos here:

Fair use claimed for all images.