July 17, 2010

Developing tribal passports

I believe tribes have been discussing the development of tribal passports with Homeland Security for years. The Iroquois lacrosse team's story gives us a glimpse of the issue:

Iroquois passport dispute raises sovereignty issue

By Felicia FonsecaSome Montana and Wyoming tribes have discussed issuing passports, but none has taken that step, said Gordon Belcourt, executive director of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

"If you're acknowledged as a government-to-government entity, there should be an opportunity for them to issue their own passports and visas," Belcourt said.

Previously, tribal members who lived near the country's northern border faced no problems when traveling between Canada and the U.S., he said. Now, tribal members, along with other travelers seeking to cross the country's borders, must adhere to stricter security guidelines.

"With 9/11, everything changed," Belcourt said.

In recent months, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been working with tribes to develop tribal ID cards with enhanced security features. Those would be good for arrivals in the U.S. only by land or sea but couldn't be used in lieu of a federal passport. Twenty-five tribes already have or are working toward formal agreements.

Robert Holden, deputy director at the National Congress of American Indians, said the Washington, D.C.-based group is hopeful the use of secured cards could be expanded to allow tribal members to travel abroad.

"It would have all the secure attributes that a passport would have, certainly a record of membership of that respective nation," Holden said. "So why would it not be accepted beyond the borders of the United States and accepted internationally?"
Comment:  Yeah, 9/11 changed everything. It gave the US government a great excuse to invent laws to further control and limit people's freedom.

I thought the 9/11 hijackers enter the country with valid passports, visas, or whatever. So we're cracking down on Indians with a law that wouldn't have prevented 9/11 if it had been in place then? Nice.

Too bad the hypocritical Tea Parties are protesting government spending programs for minorities and not actual limitations on our freedom. You know, like the Patriot Act? Warrantless wiretapping? US citizens imprisoned without trials? Feds monitoring phone calls and e-mails? Body scanners at airports? Travel restrictions such as those affecting the Iroquois? If a single teabagger has ever raised one of these issues, I must've missed it.

For more on the subject, see Iroquois Team Bows Out of Tournament and Iroquois Team Fights for Sovereignty.

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