March 24, 2020

Cardin to Pompeo: Americans Stranded Overseas Feel Abandoned by the U.S. Government; Help Them Now.

“Mr. Secretary, I implore you to use every authority granted to you and to your Department to ensure the safe return of all Americans overseas who desire to come home.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on behalf of Marylanders who are still stranded overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to come home. 

“The United States Congress has appropriated funding to the Department of State with these kinds of crises in mind. Moreover, in addition to arranging charter flights, the Department of State has the authority to partner with the Department of Defense to direct air assets to assist in the return of Americans overseas to the United States,” Senator Cardin wrote.

“Instead of feeling reassured and protected during this trying time, I continue to hear reports of Americans abroad, including many from the state of Maryland, who feel completely abandoned by the United States Government. Mr. Secretary, I implore you to use every authority granted to you and to your Department to ensure the safe return of all Americans overseas who desire to come home.”

The text of the full letter follows. 

March 24, 2020

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I write to urge swift action by the Department of State to facilitate the return of Americans overseas to the United States. I continue to be extremely concerned over the number of Americans and their family members who remain stranded in countries around the world, including in Peru, Honduras, Argentina, Colombia, India, and Namibia.

As you know, I wrote to you last week regarding this issue along with colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where we stressed that providing support and assistance to Americans overseas are among the Department’s most fundamental responsibilities. The fact that thousands of Americans still remain stranded – particularly following the State Department’s issuing of a level 4 travel advisory, commercial airlines cancelling the majority of flights, and as additional countries are taking measures to close their borders and limit travel to combat the spread of COVID-19 – is completely unacceptable.

The United States Congress has appropriated funding to the Department of State with these kinds of crises in mind. Moreover, in addition to arranging charter flights, the Department of State has the authority to partner with the Department of Defense to direct air assets to assist in the return of Americans overseas to the United States.

Instead of feeling reassured and protected during this trying time, I continue to hear reports of Americans abroad, including many from the state of Maryland, who feel completely abandoned by the United States Government. Mr. Secretary, I implore you to use every authority granted to you and to your Department to ensure the safe return of all Americans overseas who desire to come home.

I look forward to hearing from you in a timely manner regarding the steps your Department has taken and progress made to ensure this outcome.

Sincerely,

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