Foot in Mouth by Southwest

Stick to your knitting is a lesson that folks at the South by Southwest festival should take at heart and stop freelancing as immigration and deportation officials. Famous Austin’s festival South By Southwest is taking heat for threatening international bands with reporting them to immigration if they play outside the official schedule. South by Southwest is not the only one that feels sometimes the urge to become enforcers of our laws, even if they have no business doing it. Any immigrant has faced some type of abuse or discrimination, from being asked for more documents than necessary even when all you are doing is buying groceries at the supermarket, to being thrown in jail for the wrong color of skin.
Many of the international groups that come to play at SxSW do without work visa. Their argument is that they are doing an unpaid demonstration. As such they are pretty much doing all for free since they cannot legally work. Limiting their opportunity for exposure is just wrong as it will limit their future earning potentials. With the new changes in immigration policy enacted by the new administration, border immigration officers are getting more strict when it comes to allowing these performers to enter the country in a simple visitors visa or waiver for visa. They argue that by coming and performing for free they are taking away job opportunities for local artists who would get paid for those same jobs.  In an similar twist, immigration officials have refused entry to church volunteers from Canada because they were coming to do charity work, such as cleaning alleys, painting houses, etc. The US government considered these activities as displacing US workers.
The rule here is to always be aware of what you are doing, and what is in your contract. And of course, contact an attorney in case you have any questions.
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