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USA bans choirgirls

02 November 2006

FIVE Chinese members of the choir of St Mary and St Anne’s School, Abbots Bromley, part of the Anglican Woodard Corporation, have been refused US visas to take part in the choir’s tour of California next month.

Their applications, which involved non-returnable fees of £100 each, were turned down because they were regarded as potential illegal immigrants. The girls concerned come from Beijing and Shanghai. Five choirgirls from Hong Kong were issued with visas locally during the Christmas holidays, but those from mainland China were told to reapply in London.

A spokesman for the school said that the girls had been told there was no right of appeal, and had been advised not to reapply because the result would be the same. “We have made strong representations on their behalf, but the embassy was adamant. There are 32 members of the choir, but, unless there is a change of heart, only 27 girls will be going on the tour, which includes concerts at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and Disneyland.”

The headmistress of the school, Mary Steel, has written to the American ambassador, William Parish, urging him to reconsider.

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