Top State Dept. Official Steps Down From Post Overseeing Western Hemisphere

WASHINGTON — The senior State Department official who oversees diplomacy from South America to Canada is resigning as President Trump continues to limit asylum and block Central American migrants from entering the United States.

The official, Kimberly Breier, has been assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs for less than a year. An expert in Latin American issues, she also has helped lead the Trump administration’s crackdown on Cuba, including restrictions that were announced in April to allow exiles to sue for property seized during Fidel Castro’s rule.

The State Department declined to comment on Wednesday about the departure, but Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, thanked Ms. Breier “for your friendship and great service.”

“While Jared and I will miss working with you, we are happy that Emma will now get to see more of the mom she is so proud of!” Ms. Trump wrote in a tweet, sharing a picture of herself with Ms. Breier and a girl who is presumably the diplomat’s daughter.

Ms. Breier’s resignation was first reported by The Washington Post, which said she was a target of criticism from Stephen Miller, a White House policy adviser, for not being more supportive of an agreement that requires Central American migrants to seek asylum in Guatemala before coming to the United States.

The office that Ms. Breier headed has the most responsibility for relations with the Northern Triangle countries of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — that would be most affected by the so-called safe-third country agreement.

The State Department has argued privately that the Guatemalan government does not have the ability to carry out the agreement. In an Oval Office confrontation last month with the acting secretary of homeland security, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed to persuade Mr. Trump not to sign it.

On Cuba policy, however, Ms. Breier appeared in step with the Trump administration’s rollback of efforts, begun under President Barack Obama, to thaw diplomatic relations with the island nation.

Detailing the new restrictions against Cuba in April, Ms. Breier predicted “quite a bit more from us” to limit its government, led by Rául Castro’s handpicked president, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

“This is the beginning of a new process on this that recognizes the reality on the ground in Cuba, which is, in the past 20-plus years, the underlying reality in Cuba has not changed for the average Cuban,” she told reporters at the State Department.

That policy also restricted nonfamily travel to Cuba. But its permissions for exiles to file lawsuits for property in Cuba drew sharp criticism from officials in Canada and Europe, the latter of which threatened to appeal to the World Trade Organization to protect its investors on the island.

Just this week, Ms. Breier again taunted Havana over the policy, in a tweet accompanied by the hashtag “RevolutionFail.”

She has also warned against growing economic partnerships with China, which she said in a speech in late April has fostered corruption in Latin America and undermined regional security.

Source: NYT

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