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Spanish band cancels US tour after immigration officials deny entry

Medina Azahara joins growing list of Hispanic artists who are being given a hard time at the border

Medina Azahara, a veteran Spanish rock band, has become the latest addition to a growing list of foreign artists and musicians who have been denied access to the United States – or even deported after being allowed in. The Córdoba band, which released its first album in 1979 and developed a trademark sound based on a subgenre known as Andalusian rock, had been planning a US tour due to begin this Wednesday in New York City.

Medina Azahara
Medina Azahara in a promotional picture.

But via a press release, the band said that their keyboard player, Manuel Ibáñez, erroneously answered “yes” to one of the questions on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form that Europeans need to complete to enter the US.

According to the local daily Diario Córdoba, Ibáñez accidentally answered “yes” to the question: “Have you ever committed fraud or misrepresented yourself or others to obtain, or assist others to obtain, a visa or entry into the United States?”

The musician went to the consulate to try to redress the mistake, but following a two-hour interrogation, he failed to secure entry.

The band said it will return the money for tickets to their shows in New York, Maryland, Dallas, Anaheim and Chicago. Next week, their Americas tour will resume with a concert in Ecuador. Medina Azahara members said they are unsure whether they will be granted US entry anytime soon, and whether tour dates may be rescheduled.

An Argentinean art curator with residency papers underwent a 36-hour nightmare

Theirs is not the only recent negative experience with US immigration officials. In March, several artists had problems when they tried to play at the SXSW Festival in Austin (Texas). One of them was another Spaniard from the southern region of Andalusia, a trap artist who goes by the artistic name of Yung Beef, and who was informed that his ESTA was denied as he was boarding a flight in Barcelona.

Something along those lines happened to the Chilean band Trementina, three of whose five members saw their visas canceled by US immigration officials without any explanation. The Italian band Soviet Soviet and the Egyptian-Canadian group Massive Scar Era suffered a similar fate.

Deportation

For others, the experience was even more traumatic. Juan García Mosqueda, an Argentinean art curator who owns the Chamber gallery in New York and who has been a legal US resident for the last 10 years, was held at the border as he flew to the US on a flight from Buenos Aires on February 24. It was the beginning of “a 36-hour nightmare,” as he called it on his Instagram account. Immigration officials denied him the right to a lawyer, prevented him from using any communication device, went through his belongings, withheld food from him and kept him under watch when he went to the bathroom. He was finally placed on a flight back to Argentina.

Four Mexican comedians recently underwent a similar experience. Immigration officials apparently believed that Carlos Bonavides, Nora Velázquez, Maribel Fernández and Yered Licona were going to work without the corresponding permit, according to Mexican media reports. Their tourist visas were cancelled and they were expelled and barred from returning to US territory within the next five years.

And the Mexican ska bands Panteón Rococó and Antidoping cancelled their gigs at the Skating Reggae Festival, held on March 11 in Los Angeles, because they were not issued work visas. In a video, the band members said that they have been applying for, and receiving, this permit with some frequency since 2000, but that the rules got tougher this year, and their papers had not arrived in time.

English version by Susana Urra.

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