WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Retired U.S. diplomats on Monday accused the Customs and Border Patrol of a “deeply troubling pattern” of discrimination and harassment against Black, Hispanic and other minority members re-entering their own country.
The American Academy of Diplomacy, which groups former U.S. officials in international affairs, urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter to order a review of incidents, “ensure equal treatment” of minority U.S. diplomats and make clear their mistreatment is “unacceptable.”
The letter comes amid fresh scrutiny of discrimination and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a Black resident of Minneapolis who died on May 25 after a White police officer knelt on his neck, igniting nationwide protests.
Without addressing the allegations, a border agency spokesperson said in a statement that “CPB strictly prohibits profiling on the basis of race or religion” and adheres to Justice Department guidelines on the use of race, ethnicity and gender by law enforcement.
The burden of proof of admissibility to the country lies with the person seeking entry, the spokesperson said.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the letter, the academy said many minority Foreign Service officers describe enduring “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 secondary examination without cause and subjected to “repeated and hostile questioning and delays,” it continued.
“This is made even more glaring when they travel with Caucasian colleagues who pass through with the same documentation,” the letter said.
In addition to citing media interviews with former U.S. diplomats who reported incidents of harassment, the organization said it had learned “that such incidents have often disrupted” the travel of minority U.S. diplomats.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Richard Chang)