FACT Magazine reports that Italian alt-rock band Soviet Soviet was arrested and deported by U.S. immigration officials this week, shortly after they landed in Seattle on their way to a performance at this year’s SXSW. The band wrote a long statement describing their ordeal on Facebook, but the members were apparently detained because their entry to the country was perceived as “illegal immigration.”
To be clear, the band’s arrest doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the soon-to-be-removed deportation clause in the standard SXSW contract, the one that’s had a number of musicians protesting the festival for what some had seen as strong-arm tactics. Instead, officials appear to have thought that the band was performing for cash—not just the short promotional tour that their documentation stated—and arrested them for attempting to work in America without a visa. (In the agents’ defense, it’s not like the country isn’t absolutely overrun at the moment with well-respected Italian gothic rock bands who slipped under ICE’s radar. It’s basically an epidemic.)
Immediately upon landing, the band’s three members were detained at customs and interrogated separately for four hours, before ultimately being told that they were being deported. First, though, they were handcuffed, searched, and locked up for a night in jail, without being given the chance to notify their management, loved ones, or SXSW itself. They didn’t get their phones back until authorities were ready to load them on a plane back to Italy, which appears to have finally come as something as a relief. “We were relieved to fly back home and distance ourselves from that violent, stressful and humiliating situation,” the band members wrote in the aftermath of their aborted trip. You can read the full Facebook statement below.