An American singing group has pulled the plug on a trip to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, amid fears President Trump’s proposed travel ban would see them detained.
Directors of the renowned San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) said the current “volatile situation” made the long-anticipated summer trip “impossible”.
An e-mail to parents cited concerns about the travel restrictions as a reason for the move.
The group – made up of 40 teenage girls – was reportedly devastated when the trip to the popular July festival was scrapped.
President Trump has now had two executive orders trying to introduce travel bans – which would see citizens of six Muslim-majority countries stopped from entering the United States – slapped down by court judge
Shelton Ensley, chorus board president, said in the e-mail: “The current and volatile situation regarding international travel makes a trip this summer impossible. Reports of travellers being detained or denied entry have only increased.
“For the safety and well-being of choristers, faculty and staff, and until there are no concerns with customs and immigration, the chorus cannot make plans for any international travel.”
Executive director Andrew Bradford told the San Francisco Chronicle: “After seeing what has happened around the country with other artists getting stopped and having trouble coming back in, we didn’t want to … have the remote possibility that our young girls might have issues like that.”
Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF) is a multi-arts event which has been running since 1973. Young people up to the age of 25 travel from around the globe to take part.
Since its beginning, the festival has hosted more than 30,000 people and is one of the most highly regarded gatherings of young performers in the world.
Stewart Aitken, the festival’s CEO, said: “The San Francisco Girls Chorus told me about their decision to sadly pull out of the festival over the phone.
“While it’s disappointing – because the chorus is fantastic – I see where they are coming from.
“I think it was a hard decision for them to make, but the group couldn’t come over here and risk not getting everyone back home safely. The current political climate in America means it’s just too uncertain for people travelling overseas at the moment.”
Mr Ensley added: “Our number one priority, above all else, is the safety and security of every single member of the organisation.
“With so much uncertainty surrounding the developing story of travel related regulations, we felt that the tour presented an unnecessary risk at the present time.
“The many news reports circulating about travel incidents made it very difficult for us to predict future events with any degree of certainty.
“Reports have included United States citizens and lawful permanent residents being detained while attempting to enter the country or being denied entry outright.
“SFGC’s board of directors unanimously agreed that the volatility of international travel, as it was developing at the time of this decision, was paramount above all else and solidified our action to cancel the tour.”