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More Bands Denied Entry Into the U.S. to Play SXSW

SXSW
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Three international bands that were slated to play at SXSW are being prevented from entering the U.S. due to immigration laws. But unlike this weekend’s story about an Italian band that was deemed to have improper paperwork, at least two of the acts believe they were denied due to their Muslim faith.

NPR is reporting that London-based drummer Yussef Dayes, who was scheduled to perform with both his duo Yussef Kamaal and United Vibrations (which includes his brothers Ahmed and Kareem), had his visa, received under the Visa Waiver Program known as ESTA, revoked. United Vibrations released the following statement to their Facebook page.

“We are sad to announce we will NOT be performing at SXSW in Texas because our ESTA’s have been revoked under the new Executive order,” they wrote. “We were looking forward to connecting with our brothers and sisters stateside to share our music. Why weren’t we let in? our Names? the Music? The colour of our skin?”

The third group, Massive Scar Era, which is based in both Vancouver and Cairo, Egypt, was stopped at the border near Seattle when they presented B-1 (tourist) visas instead of the P-2 visa that is usually required for artists. As with the case of Soviet Soviet last week, it’s possible that they were getting paid for three other concerts they were scheduled to perform — in Denver; Provo, Utah and Seattle — while in the U.S., which would require the P-2 visa.

But even in that situation there is some gray area. According to a video they posted on Facebook, bassist Dylan Pieter Wijdenes-Charles is a First Nation — Canada’s equivalent of Native Americans — and can therefore freely travel between the U.S. and Canada under the Jay Treaty of 1794. The band said that, even after he produced his card signifying his heritage, he was told by the Customs and Border Patrol official that it wasn’t enough and that he needed to produce the results of a blood test.

Complicating matters even further is that the other two members of the group, Cherine Amr and Nancy Mounir, are Egyptian. Even though Egypt isn’t one of the nations whose residents aren’t part of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Amr said the official questioned whether they were coming to the U.S. as a form of protest.

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