All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth Talks Immigration Ban & ACLU T-Shirt Campaign

Harmony Gerber/Getty Images
All Time Low at Blind Dragon on April 28, 2016 in West Hollywood, Calif. 

As news of President Donald Trump’s executive order indefinitely banning refugees and immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. began to spread, the members of All Time Low -- like countless other artists -- were consumed in discussion about it.

“All four of us were in different places, texting back and forth going, 'Man, how unreal is this? This is scary and crazy,'” lead singer Alex Gaskarth tells Billboard.

The foursome was trying to grapple with how far-reaching the order would be. “A lot of us did a lot of reading and brushing up -- which is important to do at times like this,” says Gaskarth. “I think it’s really important when these certain situations come up in life and in the world, it’s good to try to educate yourself to know exactly what’s going on.”

As they considered the potential consequences stemming from the order, some in the pop-punk outfit couldn’t help but entertain the idea that it could have just as easily affected them.

“Two of the members of this band are immigrants. I’m from the U.K., so it’s not applicable to me in that sense, but I’m still a green card holder -- I’m not a U.S. citizen, so in that sense the fact that there’s any kind of question to that, I’ve lived here for 20-plus years and I’m still kind of like, ‘What’s going on?’” Gaskarth explains.

“But then Jack, our guitar player was born in Lebanon, born in the Middle East, which is even closer to this sweeping ban that is taking place. So it’s really close to home within the band,” he continues. “Jack’s parents both live in Lebanon, and it’s only a few degrees of separation between what is happening and directly affecting us. Then from there, we have friends and family who this is directly affecting who are devastated.”

As they discussed possible organizations to donate to with friends and peers, All Time Low decided to create a T-shirt campaign where all proceeds would be donated to the ACLU. “I think a great place to start is the ACLU because they are unbiased and standing for what is right: civil liberties and basic human rights,” says Gaskarth. “We felt like we could use our platform to guide people to what we feel is the right thing to do in this situation.

“All four of us felt like in general it’s wrong. It’s wrong to make sweeping judgments on large groups of people. It’s just wrong -- in this case it’s blatantly racist and xenophobic,” Gaskarth tells Billboard of the immigration ban.

And while this particular issue hit close to home for the band, the singer believes it’s always important to stand up against wrongs, even when you may not be on the receiving end of whom it affects.

“I think one of the biggest things is to know and feel empathy in situations like that,” adds Gaskarth. “Even if it’s not affecting you or someone you know directly, it’s important in times like these to put yourselves in the shoes of the people it is affecting.”

For those who are itching to contribute but don’t know how, he has some advice.

“I think donating is a great way to start. It’s very easy to feel powerless and feel, ‘I don’t know how to extend my reach to help,’ and donating can go a long way,” says Gaskarth. “Beyond that, I think speaking out to local representatives, Congress, Senate, they’re all a phone call away -- and the more people that call, the more people that reach out, the more those people will be encouraged to speak up.”

See the special addition T-shirt below, and to learn more or purchase it, click here.


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