Immigration clause to be removed from SXSW contracts following backlash

This includes removing the clauses that gave the festival the option to notify immigration authorities about foreign artists engaging in activities deemed to "adversely affect the viability of Artist's official showcase". Brooklyn band Told Slant pulled out of the festival after discovering what it interpreted as a "deportation clause" threatening to report worldwide artists performing at unofficial parties or showcases to Customs & Border Protection. "It is not SXSW's duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities", they state. It comes after a New York-based musician announced he was pulling out of the festival over immigration language in his contract.

SXSW has changed its contract language in light of criticism about a clause about deportation that could have affected global acts. SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson called the contract clause a safeguard, to only be used if an artist does "something truly egregious".

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.

SXSW's general counsel, Heather Liberman, told Member Station KUT in an interview published this afternoon: "We understand, in light of the current political climate, this type of language is a lot scarier than perhaps when it was originally drafted a number of years ago".

Don Giovanni Records had stated it would pull out the music conference if the language wasn't changed.

However, SXSW's statement claims, "there are no "deportation clauses" in our current performance agreements".

In a statement posted to the festival's official website, the festival reaffirmed its deep opposition to Donald Trump's latest travel ban, while announcing it would change the language of its artist invitation letter and performance agreement for 2018 and beyond.

"We would like to again apologize for the language in our agreements", the online statement added.

A few days after Walworth's tweets, SXSW organizers said they would consider amending the clause in the future, but stopped short of making an official decision.

SXSW does not have the power to deport anyone. The festival is also not colluding with immigration agencies. Today's statement also reiterates that SXSW has never reported any artist to US immigration authorities. "This year we are working to build a coalition of attorneys to assist any who face problems upon arrival in the States", the statement concluded.

Although it added that it "would be remiss not to warn our participating acts of the likely repercussions" of breaking U.S. immigration laws, SXSW has now made a decision to remove that language from its contracts, starting next year.

  • Salvatore Jensen