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SXSW Becomes Entangled In The Immigration Debate

AUSTIN, TX (CelebrityAccess) — Organizers for Austin's South By Southwest have come under fire after they appeared to threaten international bands with deportation if they perform at concerts that aren't part of the official schedule for the festival.

On Thursday, musician Felix Walworth, who performs as Todd Slant, took to Twitter to announce that he was pulling out of SXSW after he claims to have read a clause in his contract which threatens to report international acts to U.S. Customs and Border Protection if the play unsanctioned shows.

An excerpt he included with his tweet said: Accepting and performing unofficial events may result in immediate deportation, revoked passport and denied entry by U.S. Customs Border Patrol (sic – The real organization uses protection, not patrol) at U.S. ports of entry."

Responding to the controversy, SXSW's managing director Roland Swenson told USA Today that the Welworth had misunderstood the policy, noting that many international artists were performing at SXSW on non-work visas that limit what shows they can perform at.

"There is language in the Performance Agreement which is included to inform foreign artists that the U.S. immigration authorities have mechanisms to create trouble for artists who ignore U.S. immigration laws," he said. "For example, those acts coming to SXSW to perform without a work visa are limited, by U.S. immigration law, to performing their showcase event only. If an artist wishes to perform elsewhere, they will require a work visa," Swenson told the paper.

Swenson went on to say that the policies were not new and only came to the fore in the light of the increased focus on immigration issues.

"We understand that given the current political climate surrounding immigration, the language that was published seems strong," he continued. "Violating U.S. immigration law has always carried potentially severe consequences, and we would be remiss not to warn our participating acts of the likely repercussions," Swenson added. – Staff Writers