The restrictions, which affect diplomats of all backgrounds but appear to fall disproportionately on employees with Asian American and Pacific Islander backgrounds, have concerned lawmakers who point to the potential loss of cultural and linguistic knowledge that could give the US an edge in global competition.
Asian American Pacific Islander national security professionals, 特に, have argued that Chinese Americans are the US’ greatest asset in understanding and countering Beijing’s economic, political and military aggression.
The current assignment restrictions process is somewhat opaque. Until the Obama administration, Diplomatic Security wasn’t even required to tell diplomats they were barred from certain countries. Often, they would find out only after they had accepted jobs there.
“I’ve come across a number of instances of State Department employees who are given assignment restrictions for no apparent reason,” Lieu told CNN in an interview.
“It appears to me that there are a disproportionate number of Asian Americans who have been affected,” Lieu said, それを追加する “these assignment restrictions affect all ethnicities and races in the State Department.”
The bill cites State Department data showing that approximately 1,800 employees are currently subject to assignment restrictions. The top four countries to which restrictions apply are China, どこ 196 US diplomats are barred from serving; ロシア, どこ 184 US diplomats are not allowed to serve; Taiwan, と 84; and Israel, と 70.
ザ・ “Accountability in Assignment Restrictions Act,” introduced Thursday, would require the State Department to create an independent appeals process for diplomats seeking to challenge restrictions. 現在, if diplomats ask for assignment restrictions to be reconsidered, they go back to the same office — Diplomatic Security — that made the original decisions.
The bill would set a 60-day deadline for those appeals to be resolved and would require Diplomatic Security to transmit all files related to the appeals to an
“Assignment Restriction Appeals Panel
” without redaction
. That panel would be made up of senior officials
, including the department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer
The State Department would be required to report annually to Congress on the rationale for assignment restrictions, including specific case examples; the ethnicity, national origin and race of the precluded employee; their gender; and the country to which they are barred from being posted.
The report would have to include Diplomatic Security’s reasoning for the restrictions and the number of restrictions that were appealed, along with the success rate of those appeals and the impact of assignment restrictions in terms of unused language skills.
The government spends up to $ 480,000 per diplomat for two years of language training in what the State Department inspector general calls “super-hard languages” — Arabic, 日本, 中国語, 韓国語 — before diplomats are sent to posts. When diplomats are then barred from going to the posting, that investment is lost.
The bill also includes a mandate that State ensure the group of adjudicators and investigators overseeing the assignment restrictions process is diverse itself.
Lieu says the restrictions and their disproportionate impact on AAPI diplomats have to be seen in the broader context of historical discrimination against Asian Americans, a bitter timeline that runs through the Yellow Peril hysteria and the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1800s to the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II and, 最近になって, during the Covid-19 pandemic, to the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
There are specific challenges within the federal government, 同じように, Lieu said. “A number of people in our federal government, when they look at an Asian American, they put them to a higher level of suspicion than if they were looking at someone whose last name was Smith. That’s illegal and wrong, ところで,” 彼は言った, before adding that it’s also “sort of endemic.”
Lieu doesn’t expect resistance to the bill in Congress. If it becomes law, he hopes it boosts morale, results in fewer restrictions and helps improve diversity at the State Department.
“You got a problem with diversity as a department, and this problem goes all the way to the highest levels of leadership,” Lieu said. “It simply makes it much more difficult to rise to the top of the State Department if you have an assignment restriction.”