Immigration

Protecting America's Borders Against Musical Miscegenation

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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.