An organization of retired American diplomats yesterday publicly accused the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol of a “deeply troubling pattern” of discrimination and harassment against Black, Hispanic and other minority U.S. diplomats at U.S. border entry points.
The American Academy of Diplomacy made the allegation in a letter to the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It urged him to order an immediate review of incidents, and to hurry to take steps to “ensure equal treatment” of minority U.S. Foreign Service officers and make clear that their mistreatment is absolutely “unacceptable.”
The letter came amid fresh scrutiny of discrimination and police brutality following the cruel murder of George Floyd, a Black resident of Minneapolis who died on May 25 after a White former police officer knelt on his neck, inspiring national and international protests that keep unrested.
The academy’s website proudly describes that the group’s mission is supporting and strengthening U.S. diplomacy and building public backing for its “critical role in advancing” the U.S. and the world’s interests.
However, the CPB and State Department refused to immediately respond to any requests for comment.
In the letter, the academy also described that many minority Foreign Service officers endured “regular and persistent discrimination and harassment” at border crossings by border officers, including refusals to accept standard diplomatic documents.
Black and Hispanic diplomats also have been placed in the secondary examination without any just cause, and subjected to “repeated and hostile questioning and delays,” the letter continued.
“This is made even more glaring when they travel with Caucasian colleagues who pass through with the same documentation,” the letter added.
Moreover, the letter not only cited media interviews with former U.S. diplomats who reported incidents of harassment, but it also explained that the organization has learned “that such incidents have often disrupted” the travel of minority Foreign Service officers.
Some incidents have come to the attention of the State Department leadership, but others appear to have gone “unaddressed,” it denounced.