Protecting America's Borders Against Musical Miscegenation

Stupid immigration controls meet a stupidly static conception of culture:

When Jordan Peimer booked an Argentine band that fuses Jewish Klezmer music with tango, he thought he had the perfect act to headline his "Fiesta Hanukkah" concert.

"It is hard to imagine any band more fitting than Orquesta Kef," says Mr. Peimer, the program's director at the Skirball Cultural Center here. The event was designed to attract a Jewish audience and the city's burgeoning Hispanic community.

That was before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services weighed in with some cultural commentary of its own. The band couldn't travel to the U.S., the agency ruled, because it didn't satisfy a "culturally unique" requirement for a performer visa called P-3.

"The evidence repeatedly suggests the group performs a hybrid or fusion style of music...[which] cannot be considered culturally unique to one particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe or other group of persons," read the denial.

Unfortunately, the anecdote isn't unique. For more examples of kooky cultural protectionism at Citizenship and Immigration Services, read the full story in The Wall Street Journal.

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  • BakedPenguin||

    And yet, they gave Coldplay those visas. So, so sad.

  • JB||

    Isn't that because Coldplay often talks about how much they would like to lick Obama's asshole?

  • Anomalous||

    And Coldplay ripped off Joe Satriani.

  • ||

    So.....no mutts allowed?

  • ||

    Good lord - Klezmer tango isn't "culturally unique"?

    I think by "culturally unique", our masters really mean "culturally typical." Which is kind of the opposite.

  • Don Hammond||

    culturally typical =~ s/typical/pure/

  • ||

    More vitally important (INDISPENSIBLE!!) government services.

  • ||

    Oyle'!

  • ||

    How the fuck do Canadian bands get visas then?!?

  • Ska||

    The unique culture of Canadia!

  • ||

    Canadians don't need visas, silly. Even Canadian panhandlers can parlay their "disabled Mountie" schtick into big bucks here in the States, with nary a peep out of ICE.

  • ||

    I don't see this as a failure of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The failure is giving the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services the job to begin with. If someone has a job waiting for them here, they should be allowed in.

  • Geotpf||

    Yup. This is a problem with the law, not with the act of following the law. It's up to Congress to fix this.

  • ||

    But first, they should have to PROVE there are NO AMERICAN BANDS who could possibly perform the same music.

  • Abdul||

    I don't think it was the tango-klezmer fusion that kept them out. I think it was the fact that everyone in the band played either banjos or bagpipes.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    By the power of all that is unholy, I summon LoneWacko to this thread!!!!

  • ||

    I'm guessing he's been Banhammered.

    Now if they could just do the same to anonymity-bot...

  • Warty||

    He got banninated, thanks to me. I am accepting your thanks only in the form of bling and vintage metal records, so please don't waste my valuable time.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Too bad I sold them for beer money - I used to have this Hawaii EP, along with the first Tank album, and the first Queensryche EP. You can't find that shit nowadays.

  • alan||

    I think Reason just got tired of his idiotic threats to sue and sent a high powered grease ball K-Street lawyer who happened to owe someone on the staff a favor over to LW's house in person who told the dipshit to put up or shut up.

  • Warty||

    How was Nickelback allowed across the border? Canada, I will never forgive you for that.

    By the way, is Nickelback Canadian? I always just assumed.

  • ||

    When you make an assumption, Warty, you make an ass out of you and Chad Kroeger.

  • ||

    Add Celine Dion, Avril Levine, and Bryan Adams to the list.

  • Canadian Representative||

    Our government has apologized for Bryan Adams on several occasions!

  • ||

    We only want stereotypical minorities here, it's part of our stimulus to help keep comics in business.

  • lf||

    Since people tend not to RTA, and everyone wants to talk about Canada:

    Canadian Ashley Werhun competed against hundreds of dancers for a spot in the Trey McIntyre Project of Boise, Idaho. The award-winning dancer entered the U.S. on a one-year O visa, and toured 35 cities world-wide with the troupe.

    Determined to keep Miss Werhun, the dance company filed a petition last February to renew her visa for the next season. "We thought it would be a slam-dunk," says company manager Shawn Testin.

    Instead, they received a request for evidence that Miss Werhun was exceptional in her field and superior to others in the troupe. In a company of only 10 dancers, "we couldn't say she is our premier dancer," says Mr. Testin. "Every one is just as important as the other."

    Despite providing "hundreds of pages of evidence," according to Miss Werhun, the company got a rejection. She returned to Canada. The company reworked its choreography to account for Miss Werhun's absence.

    It hired immigration lawyers to file a new application. To up its chances, the company enlisted Idaho congressman Walt Minnick to lobby.

    In late November, Miss Werhun's visa was approved. She rejoined the company in midseason. All told, the visa endeavor cost the nonprofit organization more than $10,000, it says.

    The accompanying video for Werhun's story is unintentionally funny and depressing. To paraphrase, "You have to justify hiring this foreign dancer when there are so many people out of work in this country."

  • ||

    And the very best dancers come from the fields of construction and finance!

  • alan||

    You lie! That could never happen in Obama's America!

    Oh, he ran on protectionism.

  • BakedPenguin||

    OTOH, if this keeps Flatley and those other no-arm-moving Irish dancing gits out of the country, there is a definite upside.

  • alan||

    The Lord of the Dance's over emotive existence, head band and all, turned me full square against the Irish. Well, that and an Irish ex-girlfriend's asshole brother. They all seem to have asshole brothers with weird boundary issues, don't they?

  • BakedPenguin||

    If you think they're bad, never date an Italian girl. At least, not one with brothers.

  • ||

    A few months ago, a favorite band of mine had the same general sort of visa problem. I don't think it was the same problem as I think their problem hinged on not having a special visa for foreign bands with commercial relationship with a US company (in this case a record contract with a US company).. WTF? They are making it harder a US company to make money?

    Anyway, the band is mörglbl. Please give them a try if you might like jazzy hard rock.

  • BakedPenguin||

    A band I played for in the early 90's opened for Gaye Bykers on Acid on one of their 1990 tour gigs. They were having a horrible US tour - some of their gear had been stolen (they borrowed my bass rig), and one of their members was being deported because of visa problems.

  • underzog||

    KMA you Röhmites! You wrote this article because I once took a klezmer class at a Jewish Community Center.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here!

  • ||

    I have a friend who works for an immigration lawyer, and he tells similar stories. The rules are insane. They'll let in an photographer who takes pictures of toenail clippings, because it's "unique", but will refuse a visa to a photographer who takes ordinary mainstream wedding photos.

  • Paul||

    Wow. Who made that decision, and how do we vote them out of office?

    Oh wait, this is an "independent agency", separated from people who have to win popularity contests because, you know, we want experts running these agencies, not legislators...

  • mark||

    OMG, I had to read this twice to figure out that it was US ICE that denied the visa, not the Argentine gov't. This is retarded.

  • Paul||

    Word, when I first scanned the post, I thought it was some Argentine minister of culture that denied it. It was our minster of culture that denied it.

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