Below is the latest public resignation from the U.S. Foreign Service by Bethany Milton who joined the FS in 2008. She most recently served as Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.
Does dissent relieve you from moral culpability? Do the countless good things you do in your job outweigh telling a 14-year-old victim of sexual violence that her path to refugee status is now barred? There are no easy answers, writes Bethany Milton. https://t.co/buSpCpDepx
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 26, 2019
When President Trump allowed a crowd to chant “Send her back!” about a sitting member of Congress — espousing an ideology in which naturalized American citizens, at least those who don’t fit a certain profile, are held to different and dangerous standards — he wasn’t thinking about me. He’s rarely thinking about me, the white American-born daughter of two American-born citizens.
But he is often thinking and talking about at least some of the tens of thousands of people I’ve helped immigrate to the United States — legally and permissibly — over my 11 years as a consular officer in the Foreign Service. From 2014 to 2016, I oversaw immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India. Every day, my team and I saw dozens of families destined to move to the United States as green card holders: older parents going to spend their final years surrounded by grandchildren, spouses matched up through online matrimonial sites, parents with kids in tow who had been waiting patiently since the early 1990s for their chance to join a sibling.
I also oversaw immigrant visa operations in Kigali, Rwanda, from 2018 to 2019, helping Rwandans and Congolese reunite with family members in the United States. Their stories often had a darker tone: marriages brokered in refugee camps, siblings separated by war, children born of rape. But the one thing that united almost every visa applicant I ever saw was the belief that life was going to be better in America. What a rude surprise, then, for them to face elected national leadership that targets them in such gruesome ways.
When a diplomat joins the State Department, she sits through two presentations toward the end of her weekslong orientation class. One is an afternoon session about the State Department’s storied dissent channel, which lets employees speak out internally about foreign policy decisions free from the fear of retaliation. How to use it, when to use it, what it means. The other is a much shorter presentation, one that lasts all of 15 seconds: “The day you can no longer publicly support your administration’s policies is the day you need to resign.”