Members of Egyptian-Canadian band Massive Scar Era have been denied entry into the U.S., putting a stop to their planned performance at SXSW, an annual interactive music, film and media conference in Texas.
The band's songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Cherine Amr said the group was sent back at the U.S.-Canada border. The reason given was because, as performing artists, they require P-2 visas instead of B-1 (tourist) visas.
Despite the fact that the group was carrying a letter from SXSW "asserting that they could travel to the US under the 'showcase exception' with tourist visas," they were still denied entry.
The band members showed the immigration officer the SXSW official letter that says a P-2 visa is not required. They even called the festival organizers on the spot. But, nothing convinced the officer.
Amr believes that her Egyptian passport may have been the issue. But she went on to say that that the band's bassist holds an official first national card. He was also denied entry.
"His official first national (released by the Canadian government) doesn't prove he's first nation and he needs to get DNA test," the officer told him.
Since when is a DNA test required?
Both Amr and the band's singer/violinist Nancy Mounir are Egyptian.
The officer went on to say that "they are using the festival to protest," which only made matters worse.
"We are only going to play music"
U.S. President Donald Trump’s original ban, which was signed on Jan. 27, blocked citizens of Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya from coming to the U.S. and put a hold on the country's refugee program. Egypt, was not included.
Following massive protests and a court order, President Donald Trump decided to issue a more defined "Muslim Ban" ... but the discrimination still lives on. The new ban has slight changes from the original and it comes into effect this week.
Iraq is excluded from the new ban, and supposedly "people with valid visas won't be included." But, despite this clause and the fact that Egypt is included, this band's case raises questions.
Massive Scar Era isn't the first SXSW performer to be denied entry into the country. Italian band Soviet Soviet was denied entry, as was Yussef Dayes of the London-based duo Yussef Kamaal.