Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Ministry of Silly Passports

Great Britain won't let Iroquois lacrosse players into the country because, to Her Majesty's government, their papers aren't in order.


AFTER ALL, reports The New York Times you can't be too careful, in this age of global terrorism, over whom you let into your country.
For a few hours on Wednesday, the Iroquois national lacrosse team thought its passport brouhaha had been resolved, thanks to a one-time waiver from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton clearing the way for it to travel to the world championships in England using tribal documents instead of United States passports.

But later in the day, the British government was said to have refused to grant visas to the team, even with Mrs. Clinton’s waiver, a potentially decisive setback for the team.

“We are deeply disappointed, and urge our friends and supporters to reach out to the British government to seek reconsideration,” Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation, one of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy, said in a statement.

The team’s travel plans were first thrown awry last week when the British consulate asked for a written assurance from the United States government that the team would be allowed to re-enter the country using its tribal documents — an assurance that federal officials would not provide.

They changed their stance on Wednesday when Mrs. Clinton authorized the special waiver. The State Department provided the Iroquois team with letters providing assurance of their re-entry, said P. J. Crowley, the department’s spokesman.

Mr. Crowley told reporters in Washington that it would be up to the British government to decide whether to issue visas to the players based on those letters. But the Iroquois team described that decision as more of a formality, with the biggest hurdle — coming to an agreement with the State Department — having been cleared.

That turned out not to be the case. The British Consulate decided that the letters from the State Department were not sufficient because ultimately they were not passports, according to a United States government official informed of the decision.

“At this point there’s not a lot we can do,” Percy Abrams, the team’s executive director, said in a telephone interview. “We were given a set of demands, and then we met those demands — and then they were switched. That’s the way we feel.”

The U.K. Border Agency said in a statement that the British government would welcome the Iroquois team, but only if their players “present a document that we recognize as valid to enable us to complete our immigration and other checks.” The statement did not discuss the letters issued by the State Department, and a spokeswoman declined to elaborate. Until Wednesday morning, when Mrs. Clinton authorized the waiver, State Department officials had noted that federal law does not allow a tribal document to be used in lieu of a United States passport for international travel. (Security is one reason: The Iroquois passports are partly handwritten and do not include any of the security features that make United States passports resistant to counterfeiting.)
AND ONCE AGAIN, the Iroquois are reminded that with friends like the English, who needs enemies?

Perhaps the "people of the long house" would have had a lot more success getting to that English lacrosse tournament if they all had converted to Islam and gone around calling for death to all Jews, gays, etc., and so on. Maybe they might have even cultivated ties with al Qaida and urged their fans to blow up s*** all over Blighty.

Or maybe they just could have said they were Arab dissidents trying to get the hell out of the Great Satan after a vacay gone bad -- that they were longing for a friendlier, more self-hating spot for a little R and R.

Maybe then the Brits would have rolled out the red carpet for the Iroquois lacrosse players.

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