Philip J. Crowley
Daily Press Briefing
RE: Iroquois Nationals
July 12, 2010
QUESTION: Does the United States still recognize the validity of Iroquois nation passports as valid travel documents?
MR. CROWLEY: For those who —
QUESTION: I appreciate the smile, but I’m sure that the lacrosse team that’s trying to get to Britain right now doesn’t appreciate it.
MR. CROWLEY: The lacrosse team that’s trying to get to Britain to play in the World Lacrosse Championship – we are earnestly trying to help them. But given the more stringent standards that we’ve applied to travel in and out of the region through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, for one to travel to and then return from a country – other countries, you will need a U.S. passport. We are standing by to help the team get its passports on an expedited basis, and this is something that we continue to talk to them about.
QUESTION: Well, they don’t consider themselves to be citizens of the United States and —
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: And in fact, there are treaty obligations that you have that would seem to be – you would seem to be violating them by not allowing them to travel on their own passports, particularly if they meet the standard to be accepted. I know that there were negotiations with the previous administration about —
MR. CROWLEY: But again, what you’re talking about here is whether other countries will accept —
QUESTION: The Brits have said that they are only looking for assurances from the U.S. Government that these people will be allowed back into the country.
MR. CROWLEY: We stand by ready to help —
QUESTION: But you stand by ready to help them get U.S. passports. They do not accept – they don’t want that privilege.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand that.
QUESTION: So you don’t see this as a violation of treaties that go back to the 1600s?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not willing to go through a 400-year legal process here.
QUESTION: Well, but here’s the – they are.
MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what —
QUESTION: They are willing.
MR. CROWLEY: Tell you what. I will take the question as to whether we have a view as to whether helping them get a U.S. passport so they can travel for this tournament is a violation of an existing treaty.
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. That’s not the right way to look at it. It’s a cute way of changing the subject. They would argue that this is a violation of their sovereignty and a violation of the agreements that have been in existence for hundreds and hundreds of years. Can you take the question as to whether the – on the legality of this, whether you —
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that we’re saying —
QUESTION: No, you’re saying that – you’re suggesting that they are claiming that it’s a challenge to their sovereignty for you to help them get U.S. passports. The fact of the matter is they don’t want U.S. passports and they’ve been traveling for years on their own passports.
MR. CROWLEY: But since they last traveled on their own passports, the requirements in terms of the kind of documents that are necessary to facilitate travel within and outside the hemisphere have changed. We are trying to help them get the appropriate travel documents so that they can travel to this tournament. But I’ll – I understand the question that you just asked me.
QUESTION: Okay. But you say – but the appropriate travel document that you’re talking about is a U.S. passport. It’s not some kind – it’s not some enhanced version of their own passport.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again – but what you’re talking about are the standards – it’s not about a U.S. passport per se. You can have a passport from any nation. The real issue is does this passport properly provide the identification and does it meet the security standards that have been raised within our hemisphere and around the world since 2001. So any travel document that meets the standard can be accepted by nations as demonstrating the person traveling is who he or she says she is.
QUESTION: Right, right. But —
MR. CROWLEY: So the issue is the standard. I can’t speak for the —
QUESTION: Well, but it seems —
MR. CROWLEY: — the Iroquois passport to say whether it meets that standard or not.
QUESTION: Well, if you’re – but this building told them that they – that it’s not acceptable, that they can’t get back into the country with it.
MR. CROWLEY: Well —
QUESTION: So that would imply that it doesn’t meet the standard.
MR. CROWLEY: I – well, no, I actually think that conversation is – involves DHS personnel, not State Department personnel.
QUESTION: Not according to them. And I —
MR. CROWLEY: We are prepared to help them gain access to a document that does —
QUESTION: Not necessarily a U.S. passport?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I’ve already —
QUESTION: You understand that this is a bit different than someone from Guyana who is in the same situation.
MR. CROWLEY: I understand the situation. I understand the question.
QUESTION: These people live in the —
MR. CROWLEY: I understand the question.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:27 p.m.)