How Did We Get To 11 Million Unauthorized Immigrants?

U.S. Border Patrolmen Steve Shields (left) and Ed Pyeatt, march five people to a holding center in Texas shortly after their apprehension in the desert in 1981.

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An estimated 11 million immigrants live and work in the United States illegally. Their fate is one of the big policy questions facing the country. The story of how that population grew so large is a long one that’s mostly about Mexico, and full of unintended consequences.

Prior to the 1920s, the U.S. had few restrictions on immigration, save for a few notable exclusions.

“Basically, people could show up,” says Jeffrey Passel, of the Pew Research Center.

For workers in Mexico, crossing into the U.S. made a lot of economic sense, then and now.

“That person can make seven, eight, perhaps even 10 times more than they make in Mexico,” says Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister.

As more people came into the U.S. to find work, Mexicans became a larger percentage of the workforce.

“Mexican immigration is something from our grandparents’ era,” says Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development. “The fraction of the labor force in Kansas that was Mexican in 1929 was higher than it was in 1990. The same is true of Arizona. The same is true of New Mexico.”

A legal worker program

During World War II, the federal government created a legal system for Mexican farmworkers to come work in the U.S. It was called the Bracero program, and its advocates were growers who wanted a ready supply of farm labor. In its peak year, it brought in 400,000 legal workers nationwide.

Critics said the Bracero program cost American farmworkers jobs. It was problematic in other ways, too. For one, workers were bound to one employer.

“That person had total control over your life,” says Doris Meissner, former commissioner for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. “And that leads to a very unequal relationship, and it’s a recipe for exploitation.”

Another criticism of the program was that it was thought to depress the wages of American workers. President Kennedy campaigned against the Bracero program, and his successor, Lyndon Johnson, ended it in 1965. It was not replaced.

“What came then was the market operating, which is people coming to the country anyway because the jobs were here, the relationships existed between Mexico and the United States, and there was limited enforcement across the Southwest border,” Meissner says.

While it was a crime to bring unauthorized migrants into the country or harbor them, under a federal law passed in 1952 it was not a crime to employ them.

A perfect storm

By 1980, the number of people in the U.S. without documentation had grown to 1.5 million. That decade witnessed what Clemens calls a demographic and economic perfect storm.

A Mexican economic crisis sent many young Mexicans looking for work, while a booming U.S. economy meant fewer young Americans were entering the work force. By 1986, there were 3.2 million unauthorized people in the U.S., prompting action from Congress.

The Simpson-Mazzoli Act was introduced as a way to end illegal border crossings once and for all. It had three parts: give amnesty to those who had been in the country for at least five years, crack down on employers who hire people who can’t legally work here, and pump up border security to prevent future illegal crossings.

President Reagan supported the bill and signed it into law in 1986. Three million people were granted amnesty under the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, but by 1990 the number of unauthorized immigrants was back up to 3.5 million.

“Border enforcement never really kicked in in any significant way until about a decade later — the mid ’90s,” Meissner says. “Then, the real centerpiece of it, which was employer sanctions, was very weak. There was not really an effective way to enforce employer sanctions and lots of ways for both employers and workers to get around it.”

Moreover, those who had been in the U.S. less than five years weren’t eligible for the amnesty.

“So those people who couldn’t apply for the legalization program became the seedbed for today’s 11 million,” Meissner says.

Boom and bust

The U.S enjoyed huge economic expansion through the 1990s, which sent the number of unauthorized immigrants soaring. According to the Pew Research Center, by 1995, despite increased border enforcement, the population hit 5.7 million.

As it became more difficult and dangerous for migrants to go back and forth between their homes in Mexico and jobs in the U.S., many of them stayed in the U.S. The growth continued, reaching 8.6 million in the year 2000.

“Things slowed down a little bit with the recession in 2001 to 3,” Passel says. “And then the flows picked up again as the economy heated up through 2006 to 7.”

It was then that the country hit the highest number — more than 12 million.

“With the onset of the great recession, the flows ceased, pretty much, for a couple of years,” Passel says. “After 2009, the U.S. economy expanded, unemployment rates went down, but the unauthorized flows did not pick up again.”

The number has been around 11 million for almost a decade.

2017 snapshot

Today, the population of unauthorized immigrants is more urban, less seasonal and less Mexican than it used to be. About 52 percent are from Mexico and the population is less single and male than before.

“At this point, the unauthorized immigrant population is largely a family-based population,” Passel says.“About half of the unauthorized immigrant adults in the United States have U.S.-born children.”

An estimated 40 percent of unauthorized immigrants did not sneak into the country; they entered legally and overstayed their visas. The work they do has changed from being strictly agricultural to a range of mostly low-wage, low-skilled jobs such as landscaping, meat rendering and back kitchen work in restaurants.

All Things Considered editor Andrea Hsu and intern Esteban Bustillos contributed to this report.

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Brazil's Recession The Longest And Deepest In Its History, New Figures Show

A man reads job advertisements in January 2017, in downtown Sao Paulo. Brazil is facing an unemployment crisis.

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Brazil’s recession was already of historic proportions. Today, government figures confirm that it has grown even worse.

The economy last year actually dipped more sharply than expected. The national gross domestic product contracted by 3.6 percent in 2016, statistics agency IBGE said Tuesday.

“The numbers for 2015 were slightly worse,” NPR’s Philip Reeves reports from Brazil. “Added together, this means Latin America’s biggest country — once one of the world’s fastest growing economies — has undergone the longest and deepest recession since records began.”

The country’s economy is “now 8% smaller than it was in December 2014,” according to the BBC.

Philip explains what’s driving the economic trouble:

“The downturn’s been fueled by a fall in commodity prices but also by corruption scandals and political turmoil. Nearly 13 million Brazilians are without jobs; government departments are struggling to find funds for public services.”

Discontent over the dismal economy contributed to last year’s impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff.

New president Michel Temer “says the first signs of recovery have already appeared,” as Phil reports. But he adds that “economists tend to strike a more cautious note, saying that any recovery this year will likely be slight.”

Some economists are even more pessimistic, such as Carlos Kawall, the chief economist at Banco Safra. “We see zero growth in 2017, or maybe just a little bit above that,” Kawall told Reuters. “We should not see any big recovery this year; we will have to wait until 2018.”

The unemployment crisis is so staggering that the BBC has this comparison: “It is as if the entire population of a country like Greece or Portugal were now looking for jobs and not finding anything.”

The broadcaster adds that there are signs of optimism in the country’s stabilizing monthly inflation rates and falling interest rates: “This could fuel consumption and investment and speed up the country’s recovery.”

And as Reuters notes, the crushing recession “has not been marked by the financial upheaval seen in other crises in the country’s turbulent economic past.” Those include “sovereign debt crises, capital flight and hyperinflation, not of which happened during the current slump.”

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Why A 106-Year-Old Event Is Still Relevant In 2017

Indonesian activists celebrate International Women’s Day in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta in 2016.

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Women won’t be coming to work. That’s what Americans may think that International Women’s Day means this year.

The event, which has been celebrated for 106 years, has no single organizer or agenda. That’s what makes it so effective, says Terry McGovern, professor and chair of population and family health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “There’s not an imposed agenda. It allows women to define what the day means for them, and what needs to happen for them to achieve equality.”

The roots of the day are in the U.S. and European Socialist movements of the 1900s. In 1975, the United Nations adopted it as an official day of observance and for the past couple of decades has offered up a yearly theme for its member states — but it’s completely optional. This year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange, calls for gender equality in the workplace. Organizers in the U.S. are asking women to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor on March 8. But Jamaica, for example, has chosen an alternative theme: gender-based violence, in light of an increased number of attacks against women.

So the day has taken on a life of its own, particularly in many of the countries that we cover in this blog. Here’s a look at some of the ways it’s been celebrated in the past few years — for better and sometimes for worse.

Government approved

In a handful of countries, including Cuba, Madagascar and Uzbekistan, it’s an official holiday. And here in the U.S., we now celebrate women all throughout the month of March. In 2016, President Obama proclaimed it as Women’s History Month.

Say it with flowers

Some countries, like Romania, treat International Women’s Day kind of like Mother’s Day. Men give the special ladies in their lives flowers and chocolates, or take ’em out for lunch.

Pressing issues

In Lahore, Pakistan, for example, women from the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami used the day in 2016 to protest against honor killings, the act of murdering women for bringing shame upon her family.

In Bhopal, India in 2011, more than 8,000 women participated in a rally organized by the global advocacy group ActionAid to fight for free speech. The women wore chains on their hands and paper padlocks over their mouths.

And this year in Poland, the big day falls smack in the middle of ongoing protests against the country’s tightened abortion laws. Tomorrow, women in 100 cities and villages across the country will dress in dark colors in solidarity, in a day they are calling “Black Wednesday.”

Inspiring ‘wokeness’

For Yemeni activist Rasha Jarhum, International Women’s Day was the first time she witnessed what she calls “pretend equality” in her country. In 2010, she joined a youth initiative called Kuni Wa Kun, which means “to be” in Arabic. They organized the country’s first-ever IWD event at a museum in Yemen, inviting a minister to deliver a speech.

“It was at that moment I realized how sad our reality was,” Jarhum wrote in an email to NPR. “He went on and on about women’s achievement, quoting historic events of our pre-existence [like] Queen of Sheba and said we now have one [woman] minister and one [woman] ambassador, as if that was a huge achievement.”

Tea and volleyball

Not all Women’s Day events are serious. Scroll through the International Women’s Day website and you’ll find listings for fun events. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, there’s a Global Mentoring Walk. At the Protea Lusaka Tower Hotel in Zambia, musician and activist Jasmine Kasoma is hosting a high tea. And in Ben Arous, Tunisia, women are invited to play volleyball with the guys to introduce women to the sport.

Get off your high heels

With so many IWD events, there’s bound to be some missteps. For one establishment in Mumbai, India, it was literal. Last year, a bar called Old Wild West offered discounts to women who showed up on March 8 wearing their “HIGHEST heels” and busting their “best moves as our DJ will be belting his best tunes,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

Another IWD event in Guangdong, China, last year also missed the mark. Men climbed a mountain while dressed up in women’s clothes and heels to feel the “hardship of being a woman nowadays,” according to People’s Daily Online, a Chinese newspaper.

Say it with a hashtag

Like every other event these days, IWD has its hashtags: #InternationalWomensDay, #WomensDay, #IWD2017 and #BeBoldForChange. Local groups are also hosting their own conversations. This year, Twitter India is working with She The People TV, a storytelling platform, to launch the hashtag #SheLeadsIndia.

“It’s an important day anywhere in the world as long as women haven’t achieved full gender equality,” says Nanette Braun, chief of communications and advocacy at U.N. Women. “And we haven’t achieved it anywhere.”

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Public Clinics Fear Federal Cuts To Planned Parenthood Would Strand Patients

About 35 percent of the patients at this clinic in York, Penn., receive Medicaid. The clinic offers STD testing, cancer screening, and contraception services as well as abortion services.

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Opponents of abortion rights have long argued that public funds for services like cancer screenings and contraception should go solely to health clinics that don’t provide abortions. They’ve made “defunding Planned Parenthood” – or, to be more precise – blocking the organization from receiving funding through federal programs like Medicaid — a major goal.

Now, Republicans in Congress have proposed an Affordable Care Act repeal that would, for one year, prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for providing services like contraception and cancer screenings to low-income patients.

Dawn States, 26, says she wouldn’t be able to safely carry a pregnancy because of spinal problems that required two surgeries. She’s turned to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives and gynecological care for years.

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Worry about just that kind of action under a Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress is what brought Dawn States of Lancaster City, Penn., back into her local Planned Parenthood recently.

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen in the next foreseeable future — and I actually physically can’t have kids,” States says, after having two spinal surgeries as a teenager.

She’s now 26, and has come to the Planned Parenthood clinic in York, Penn., to get a long-acting intrauterine device, or IUD.

“My spine is fused, and I have two rods. So it’s just not really set up for carrying around an infant,” she says.

States says she worries what will happen to women like her who receive Medicaid and depend on Planned Parenthood for this kind of care.

The organization has been a focus of antiabortion activism because it provides about a third of the nation’s abortions, according to data gathered by the Guttmacher Institute — though, under current law, the clinics can’t and don’t use federal money to pay for the procedure, in most cases.

For other services, like screening for sexually transmitted diseases, Planned Parenthood gets more than $500 million in public funds — much of it from Medicaid — according to the organization’s most recent annual report.

Eric Scheidler is executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, one of the groups pushing to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

“Whether this funding goes directly for abortion or indirectly allows them to have access to a large population of potential abortion clients, and to keep the lights on and man their call centers and do all their political activity, they should not be receiving taxpayer dollars,” Scheidler says.

Instead, Scheidler says, those patients should go to community health centers that specialize in treating low-income patients.

Other anti-abortion-rights groups, like Students for Life, also have been promoting the idea of redirecting those funds to federally qualified health centers, known as FQHCs — which perform a range of primary care services, often with a large share of Medicaid dollars.

Ever wonder where pregnant women and their families would go when Planned Parenthood is defunded?

— Students for Life (@Students4LifeHQ) March 3, 2017

The locations, hours, and availability of services at these public health clinics vary from place to place. For patients in York, there’s a center less than a mile from Planned Parenthood — but it’s busy.

“There are more patients who seek our care than we’re able to provide care for,” says Jenny Englerth, CEO of Family First Health, which offers primary medical care and dental care at several clinics in the area. More than half of the patients at these clinics receive Medicaid.

Englerth says her patient loads keep growing, and the organization frequently has to turn away patients — sometimes daily, depending on the time of year.

“Sometimes in the height of the cold and flu season there just isn’t enough capacity to go around,” she says.

What’s more, doctors here can decline to provide birth control if it violates their religious beliefs. Englerth says she tries to hire a good mix of providers so that patients are able to get the care they need. But some, like Dr. Luis Garcia, choose not to offer birth control options like implants and IUDs. Garcia says he does screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and talks with patients about a technique called fertility awareness that can reduce unwanted pregnancies.

“But if a patient comes in and they want to get a Nexplanon or IUD or other birth control, then they can go to another provider,” Garcia says.

Heavy patient loads are common at these clinics, says Sara Rosenbaum, a health policy professor at George Washington University. Rosenbaum says these community health centers provide important services, but aren’t as equipped to provide the reproductive services that Planned Parenthood is known for.

“There are all kinds of reasons why it’s not just a simple substitution of X for Y,” she says.

Rosenbaum points to Texas, where state lawmakers in 2011 reduced Planned Parenthood’s funding. Dozens of family planning clinics closed and the birth rate for low-income women went up.

Some patients, Rosenbaum says, are unwilling to use a clinic that, by design, serves the whole family.

“There may be people who were younger users who were uncomfortable where they might run into their aunt sitting in the waiting room,” Rosenbaum says.

Sally Gambill, a certified nurse midwife at the Planned Parenthood in York, says she’s seen too many patients over the years who became pregnant because they weren’t able to obtain birth control efficiently.

“The sperm and egg really, really want to meet; they just do. That’s why we’re all here,” Gambill says. “And if we don’t help people, if they want to be on contraception [and] we don’t help people when they want to be helped – that day, that hour — then sperm and egg find each other.”

If Planned Parenthood were no longer an option for some patients, Jenny Englerth says, her network of health clinics would try to meet the need.

“But I also understand the reality of what we try to do every day and the pressures that we feel every day with our existing demand ,” she adds, “so there are going to be gaps and shortfalls. And I can only project the stories of those individual women that will fall in between.”

If there are major changes to federal funding for low-income patients’ reproductive health services, Englerth says, she hopes they don’t happen too quickly, so centers like hers have time to try to close those gaps.

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Joey Bada$$, With The Strong “Land of the Free,” Finds A Target

Joey Bada$$ in the video for “Land of the Free,” which he co-directed with Nathan R. Smith.


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Did you know there’s a Wikipedia entry for “political hip-hop”? Kind of like having an entry for “wet rain” or “loud thunder,” ain’t it? Even when totally devoid of overt sociopolitical commentary, rap consistently speaks volumes about the state of The Union.

In yet another example of mainstream rap’s potent return to the pointed political criticism that earned the genre its golden-age tag of rebelliousness, a new song and video from Joey Bada$$. “Land of the Free” is the first single from the Brooklyn MC’s sophomore LP, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ (due April 7 on Pro Era/Cinematic) and it’s a powerful political statement, a baseball bat to the Age of Trump.


“Three Ks two As in Amerikkka / I’m just a black spade, spawn out the nebula,” he raps. In the video, which he co-directedwith Nathan R. Smith, Joey presents himself as the all-American alternative, leading a group of chained African-Americans through a mountainous landscape, before coming to a standoff with authoritarian figures in the form of white policeman, businessmen, and politicians. In a climactic scene, Bada$$ is lynched, before Klansmen gather around a burning cross and remove their hoods to reveal police officer uniforms.

As direct as the video may be, the lyrics paint the real portrait here, as he critiques a system steeped in inequality and political indifference:

“Sorry Amerikkka, but I will not be your soldier
Obama just wasn’t enough, I need some more closure
And Donald Trump was not equipped to take this country over
Let’s face facts ’cause you know what’s the real motives”

Like YG, who recently performed his anti-Trump anthem “FTD” (sample lyric: “f—- Donald Trump”) at San Diego State University, Bada$$ seems less concerned with the prosperity preaching that continues to define much of rap’s mainstream. With “Land of the Free,” he’s foreshadowing an album that intends to take hip-hop’s political voice quite literally.

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Harvey Mandel On World Cafe

Harvey Mandel’s latest album is called Snake Pit.

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  • “Baby Batter”
  • “Wade in the Water”

Guitarist Harvey Mandel was on the very short list to replace Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones, but you’ve probably never heard of him — or even heard him play. Mandel grew up playing in Chicago blues clubs in the early ’60s and made a breakthrough record with Charlie Musselwhite called Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s South Side Band.

After moving to California, Mandel recorded instrumental albums like Cristo Redentor, which were staples on early progressive radio, and became an on-again, off-again member of Canned Heat. His sinuous style up and down the guitar neck earned him the nickname “The Snake” and got him that Stones audition. Now, Mandel is back with his gifts intact on the new album Snake Pit. Hear the complete segment, including live performances of music from Snake Pit, in the player above.

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South Sudan Will Now Charge $10,000 For An Aid Worker Permit. Why?

People line up to register for a food distribution in South Sudan.

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Late last month, famine was declared in two counties of the civil-war torn East African country of South Sudan. With 100,000 people at risk for dying of starvation in that area alone and millions more on the brink of crisis-level food shortages throughout the country, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir promised “unimpeded access” to humanitarian aid organizations working there.

A few days later the South Sudanese government hiked the fee for work permits for foreign aid workers from $100 to $10,000.

It’s unclear whether the fee would apply only to newcomers or to those already there as well. Whatever the case, the amount is “absolutely unheard of globally,” said Julien Schopp, director for Humanitarian Practice at InterAction, an alliance of 180 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working around the world. “No organization can afford this, and if NGOs go to their institutional donors to request that extra money, I’m pretty sure that [the donors] will be reluctant to pay this because they will see this to some extent as ransom.” With the South Sudan experiencing a poor economy, the government is seeking revenue “wherever it can find it,” he says.

Joel Charny, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, similarly views this as an example of seeing foreigners and foreign aid workers as sources of income. As for the timing, it “could not be worse,” he says.

A famine was declared because people are already dying of starvation in some parts of the country and U.N. agencies predict the food situation will only worsen in coming months. Instead of another “bureaucratic impediment,” Charnycontinues, “what we need is collaboration, assistance from the government and from all the warring parties” to provide emergency food supplies, medical aid and shelter.

The exact timing may have been less by design than by chance, according to Schopp, who says that, “Some people in the country say this has been in the works for some time.” In addition, the extent to which the fee will be implemented remains unclear. “I think there will be pushback from everyone concerned.”

Charny also foresees a back-and-forth between government and NGOs and wonders if the fee increase “will stick.” But if the government insists on such a fee, he worries that organizations might have to make impossible decisions about their programs. It raises the question, he says: “Is this the breaking point?”

In the meantime, because of the already fraught situation, questions about the fee increase remain sensitive. Representatives of several organizations who work there would not comment to NPR, apparently concerned that might further impede their aid efforts.

Even without this new obstacle, South Sudan is an incredibly difficult place for aid groups to work. Last November, NRC’s country director in the capital of Juba was expelled. “And to this day we haven’t gotten an explanation as to why,” Charny says. “What the rationale was for expelling him was never clarified.”

Despite the expulsion, NRC continues to work in South Sudan.

Operational challenges are abundant. There are no paved roads outside the capital. Dirt roads wash out and become impassable during rainy season, making it very hard to reach remote areas. In addition to the logistical challenges, since the onset of civil war in 2013, ongoing tensions between the South Sudanese government and international NGOs have led to further hurdles. In July rampaging government soldiers looted humanitarian compounds in the capital, raped foreign aid workers, attacked international peacekeepers and killed civilians who’d taken shelter on a U.N. base.

The security concerns have continued. At the end of February, armed groups stormed and looted the compound and warehouse of Save the Children in Watt, South Sudan, an area classified as on the brink of famine. Food supplies for 1,500 malnourished children were stolen. The country as a whole is also listed as the third most dangerous country for aid workers, after Somalia and Afghanistan, according to data on attacks on these workers collected by the Aid Worker Security Database. “The situation is complicated and dangerous, especially for our South Sudanese colleagues that are bearing the brunt of this,” says Schopp.

Given all these complexities, Schopp concludes that the drastic fee hike is “part of a broader issue of trying to restrict access to the people in need.” As to why the government would try to impede the delivery of emergency aid one possibility may be that “there is real panic about the conditions, the lack of food and about the press reporting on this,” suggestsRuth Messinger, global ambassador of the American Jewish World Service, whose mission is to end poverty and promote human rights in the developing world. “It is a sign of their failure as a country if they cannot meet the needs of their country.”

Diane Cole writes for many publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Jewish Week, and is book columnist for The Psychotherapy Networker. She is the author of the memoir After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges. Her website is

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After Public Battle, SXSW Apologizes And Pledges To Change Its Artist Contract

Fans at the NPR showcase at SXSW in March 2015.

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Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW

Last week, a fierce battle was pitched between the Austin, Texas-based music mega-festival South by Southwest (SXSW) and artists who took exception to a certain passage in the agreements which SXSW sends to its performers.

Some musicians and fans, including a group of over 80 artists and record labels who signed an open letter against SXSW, objected to what they interpreted as an overt threat by the festival’s management to report international artists to immigration authorities if those artists performed outside of their official SXSW showcases, or otherwise violated their agreements with the festival. This year’s edition begins this Friday.

Today, SXSW released a statement, which included both an apology and a promise to change that contract language to assuage those concerns.

The festival organizers, including SXSW CEO and co-founder Roland Swenson had maintained in interviews, including with NPR, that they were only reminding artists of what might happen if they breached the terms of their immigration standing with the American government. Nevertheless, last week’s controversy generated enough public pressure on the festival to catalyze a response.

Specifically, SXSW has pledged to remove the one of the current agreement’s most controversial clauses, beginning with next year’s artist invitation letters and performance agreements.

“We will remove the option of notifying immigration authorities,” the statement reads, “in situations where a foreign artist might ‘adversely affect the viability of Artist’s official showcase.’ Safety is a primary concern for SXSW, and we report any safety issues to local authorities. It is not SXSW’s duty or authority to escalate a matter beyond local authorities.” Today’s statement also reiterates that SXSW has never reported any artist to U.S. immigration authorities.

SXSW’s general counsel, Heather Liberman, told Member Station KUT in an interview published this afternoon: “We understand, in light of the current political climate, this type of language is a lot scarier than perhaps when it was originally drafted a number of years ago.”

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First Watch: A Bittersweet Treatment For J.Views' 'Don't Pull Away'

“Don’t Pull Away” is remarkably seductive. That’s no wonder: Mike Milosh, who’s astonishing voice was at the heart of the sensual band Rhye, contributes both that and songwriting, alongside Gotye (whose lovely smash “Somebody That You Used To Know” is nearly six years old, if you can believe it) and J.Views. It’s easy to understand why this billowing, floating piece has drawn over five million listens on Spotify since we put it on our show back in 2015.

The video takes the wanting and yearning in the song to another level; director Tamar Glezerman wrote to tell us that she felt motivated to celebrate “women, women of color and LGBTQ people,” which it does lovingly and tenderly through its stars, the transgender model/actress Indya Moore and the model Elliot Sailors.

“The story of the video is that of a loss, love and even lust, between a singer and her object of affection — first perceived as the viewer, but then revealed to be the woman filming her,” Glezerman writes. “The original casting call for the role actually included Elliot Sailor’s image as reference, so I was beyond myself when she actually joined us. I admire her work and her activism and was sure they would make a heartbreaking couple to watch dissolve.

“We had set out to make a bittersweet video about the commonest of denominators — heartbreak — with this particular one happening to be gay and interracial. No special reason required. Or at least, no more than would’ve been required had they been a straight white couple. However, that is not what America feels like right now, and I feel even more motivated to proudly celebrate women, women of color and LGBTQ people, through visibility, artistic collaborations and continuing to try and reflect the world as it is — full of all kinds of different people with all kinds of stories. Stories that just got a lot more urgent to listen to.”

This Song “Don’t Pull Away” can be found on a new deluxe edition of 401 Days they’ve renamed 402, including a 40-page hardcover book, due out June 6. The original 401 was part of an “interactive album” J. Views called a DNA project, which documented (and solicited input during) the entire process of creating a record from start to finish.

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Chris Robinson Brotherhood On World Cafe

Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s most recent album is called Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel.

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  • “Forever As The Moon”
  • “Boom-A-Dip-Dip”
  • “California Hymn”

Music was a solace for Chris Robinson long before he and his brother Rich formed The Black Crowes. “Being a little weirdo, outsider, dyslexic kid from the Deep South in the early ’70s, to me music and art was an oasis away from everybody,” he says. When the brothers dissolved their longtime band for good a few years ago, Chris formed the Chris Robinson Brotherhood with guitarist Neal Casal and others. This band plays what Robinson has come to call “California music” — a psychedelic, roots-oriented style that only improves live.

In this session, hear a lively conversation touching on The Black Crowes’ breakup and on Robinson’s father, also a vocalist, who didn’t initially believe in his singing — plus a typically great performance. Hear it all in the player above and get a look inside the studio below.


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