American Academy of Diplomacy Letter Regarding Harassment of American Diplomats

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    Ven Suresh
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 13, 2020
      Contact: Maria Reissaus
      Tel: (202) 331-3721

      American Academy of Diplomacy Letter Regarding Harassment of American Diplomats at U.S. Border Entry Points
      Washington, D.C. – This morning the American Academy of Diplomacy transmitted a formal letter to the Secretary of State Pompeo regarding the issue of harassment of American Diplomats at U.S. border entry points. The letter has also been shared with the offices of the Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun, the Under Secretary for Management Brian Bulatao, and the Director General of the Foreign Service Carol Perez. The full text of the letter follows below and the original copy is attached.

      July 13, 2020
      Dear Mr. Secretary:

      The Honorable Michael Pompeo
      Secretary of State
      U.S. Department of State
      2201 C St. NW
      Washington, DC 20520
      As our nation reckons with long standing racial issues, moving forward in unity will require seizing this moment to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion within our public institutions, including the Department
      of State.
      The American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD) strongly supports the ideals of diversity and inclusion in the State Department’s career and non-career ranks. Efforts to make the foreign and civil services more representative of the American people, including those sponsored by the Director General, require renewed momentum. An AAD Working Group is currently developing a set of proposals to further diversity, equity,
      and inclusion efforts at State which we look forward to sharing with you.
      We are writing to address one acute issue: the deeply troubling pattern in the mistreatment of Black, Hispanic and other minority officers crossing U.S. border/entry points. By their own testimony, many State Department officers have endured regular and persistent discrimination and harassment by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers. Problems include CBP officers not accepting standard diplomatic documents; placing Black and Hispanic officers in secondary examination without cause; and repeated hostile questioning and delays. This is made even more glaring when they travel with Caucasian colleagues who pass through with the same documentation. This pattern became so persistent that it reportedly led to the 2018 resignation of a Black officer posted to Mexico. In the June 11 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, this
      officer reported raising the issue with supervisors and was met with relative indifference. Another officer reported problems and continued delays, even after being issued a letter by a supervisor explaining her
      official status.
      Mistreatment of State Department personnel by U.S. CBP is not new. We have learned that such incidents have often disrupted the official travel of Black, Hispanic and other officers. While in the past, some incidents came to the attention of Department leadership, the continued reports, including from our most senior members, suggest that such mistreatment lives on and too often goes unaddressed. We hope you concur that any perception of tacit acceptance of such practices or indifference to the reports by Department
      officials or other Federal officials is unacceptable and warrants action.

      We would like to suggest some steps to address and hopefully halt the mistreatment of Black and other
      minority staff, indeed all State Department staff, by law enforcement at border entry posts:

      A Department-wide review, ordered by you, regarding the specific incidents reported by officers
      and consideration of measures that can be taken within State both to intervene immediately in
      such cases and ensure equal treatment at the border of all staff in Mexico and worldwide;
      A review of the issue at a senior level with the Department of Homeland Security, specifically the
      U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to ensure such practices cease; and
      Make clear to all Department employees that you regard such mistreatment as unacceptable, that
      you expect reported cases to be addressed overseas and domestically, as appropriate, and that you
      will follow up regularly with the Director General and relevant senior officials at State and other
      The American Academy of Diplomacy strongly supports a diverse, inclusive, well-resourced, and high- impact State Department. Further progress toward this objective will require sustained effort at the most senior levels to ensure that all Department officers get the respect and dignity from US law enforcement officials, which every American is entitled to at the border and international entry points, especially while on official duty.

      We are confident you share our concern regarding the debilitating effects on the morale of our Black, Hispanic and other minority officers that this systemic discrimination from staff of another US Government
      agency has and that you undertake every effort to end it.

      Thomas R. Pickering, Chairman Ronald E. Neumann, President

      cc: The Honorable Stephen Biegun, Deputy Secretary of State
      The Honorable Brian Bulatao, Under Secretary of State for Management
      The Honorable Carol Perez, Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Global Talent
      END ###

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