President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban has already had a huge impact, including widespread condemnation from the leaders of foreign powers (including Iran, Iraq, Britain, France, Canada and Australia among others), massive protests at the nation’s airports and, in a surprise move Monday night (Jan. 30), the firing of his acting attorney general Sally Yates.
It has also caused a sense of panic among some artists and musicians who are unclear about their ability to travel in the wake of the confusing, reportedly rushed roll-out of the measure, which blocks any refugees from entering the country for 120 days (including those from war-ravaged Syria, who are indefinitely barred) and a 90-day ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
With the Feb. 12 Grammy Awards less than two weeks away, Billboard reached out on Monday night to see if Trump’s actions will have any impact on the show. “Fortunately, at this time, it appears that no current-year nominees stand to be directly affected by the recent policy change,” a spokesperson for the show told Billboard via email. At press time it was unclear if any of the expected performers, presenters or attendees were from the affected countries. (Billboard will update this story in the lead-up to the broadcast.)
The executive action has created chaos in the lives of a number of immigrants who are in the country legally, including Syrian musician Kinan Azmeh, who legally immigrated to the U.S. 16 years ago thanks to his “extraordinary” abilities. Azmeh, who flew to China three weeks ago to perform with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, told Billboard on Sunday (Jan. 29) that he was unsure if he would be allowed to return home.
The ban has already had an impact on the upcoming 89th annual Academy Awards (FEb. 26), with acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi — whose film The Salesman was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film — saying the uncertainty around his ability to travel to the U.S. was “in no way acceptable” and that he wouldn’t attend even if an exception was made. The ban is also affecting the Syrian humanitarian workers who are the subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary short The White Helmets, who will not be able to attend due to the ban.
The 59th annual Grammy Awards will be hosted by The Late Late Show host James Corden, who aired a moving commentary on the travel ban on his show Monday night. Given Corden’s proclivity for commenting on Trump — as well as the numerous protests against the president’s immigration action at Sunday night’s SAG Awards — it seems likely that the British comedian will weigh in on the controversy.