An Italian band have been arrested and deported for “illegal immigration” on their way to SXSW.
Soviet Soviet were scheduled to play a series of shows at the Austin, Texas festival, as well as perform for Seattle’s KEXP radio station.
The band landed in Seattle on Wednesday (March 8), but were denied entry by US customs officials after being interrogated for four hours. The members were then jailed overnight before being put on a plane back to Italy the next day.
In a post on their Facebook page, they say they were not able to contact their families or record label, and were not given their phones of bags back until they were ready to board the plane home. They also say customs officials spoke directly to the head of their US label, but still concluded they were trying to enter the country illegally.
“We left Italy headed towards the US with all necessary documents, passports and various declarations in which we clearly explained the purpose of our tour, confirming it is was strictly promotional and that we were in no way going to earn money from it or receive any form of payment,” Soviet Soviet state in the post.
“We knew that if we were to receive any compensation we would have had to apply for work visas. This was not the case and the people we spoke to for information told us we would be fine. We had not agreed on any payment whatsoever and the scheduled showcase performance at KEXP was most certainly not a paid performance.”
They continued: “The point is that the control agents who did a quick check on the concerts we informed them of noticed that two of the venues were asking for entry fees and this was enough to convince them that we needed work visas instead of an ESTA.”
Read the statement in full, via Fact, below.
Official Statement:We arrived in Seattle on the afternoon of March 8.We made our way to passport control with our…
SXSW was criticised last week for a clause in its contract that suggested the festival could report performers to immigration authorities if they so wished. That clause had nothing to do with Soviet Soviet’s deportation, but organisers did promise to remove that section of the contract from next year onwards.