UK Won’t Give Iroquois Lacrosse Team Visas, Despite Clinton’s Waiver Letter

By Alex Pepper

Jul 15, 2010 4:40pm

From Kirit Radia The United Kingdom has declined to issue visas to the Iroquois nation’s lacrosse team, meaning they won’t be able to play in an international tournament in England which begins today, according to the US State Department. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said that, despite a one-time waiver letter Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued yesterday in an attempt to allay British concerns, London maintains the Iroquois passports the team wanted to use are invalid travel documents. “We understand that the U.K. has offered to waive the visa requirement and accept the Iroquois document if accompanied by a U.S. passport. We have reiterated our offer to assist qualified team members with expedited issuance of U.S. passports,” Crowley told reporters today. “I can't say that we're surprised by this because, quite honestly, we've had the same — we've had the same concerns about the existing travel documents,” Crowley added. The Iroquois nation, whose ancestors helped invent lacrosse as early as 1,000 years ago, issues its own passports but the US and an increasing list of other countries now say they are not valid for international travel because they do not have adequate fraud protection features. The Iroquois confederacy is comprised of six tribes that live on both sides of the US-Canada border. After media outlets and politicians broadcast the team’s plight in recent days, yesterday Secretary Clinton authorized a one-time waiver to allow the team to use their Iroquois passports. The State Department provided a letter to assure the United Kingdom that the team would be allowed back into the United States on those passports. “We have looked at our authorities and found that given these exigent circumstances, we have granted a one-time waiver.  But in the future, yes, you know, they will need a U.S. passport, you know, to avoid a similar situation the next time they travel, for any kind of international competition,” Crowley told reporters yesterday. Earlier this week the State Dept said it had no treaty obligation with the Iroquois nation to recognize their passports, and insisted the only resolution was for them to obtain US passports. Asked why Secretary Clinton allowed a waiver for the team to travel in this instance, Crowley said yesterday that “when she was first informed of the issue earlier this week, she did take a personal interest in it.  She is very familiar with, you know, these tribes.  She represented, you know, some of them as a senator from New York.  And I think she feels the same way that many Americans feel, which is, you know, we want to see a team, which is by every indication one of the leading lacrosse teams in the world, have the opportunity to participate in the Olympics of lacrosse.” -Kirit Radia

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