3/27/2020 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed is pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to do a better job helping Rhode Islanders and other Americans stranded abroad.  Reed wants the State Department to provide Americans overseas with clear and timely information and do everything it can to assist Americans abroad who wish to return home – including the provision of emergency flights. 

Senator Reed says he has heard from dozens of Rhode Islanders who are stuck overseas trying to return home and that they are frustrated with the lack of information from the State Department.  These Rhode Islanders are currently located in several countries, including: Liberia, Samoa, Indonesia, Cape Verde, Guatemala, Peru, Syria, Honduras, Thailand, Philippines, and Australia.  

“This is a challenging time, but that is exactly when people expect their government to step up and do its job.  We must do everything we can to ensure the safety and security of our citizens,” said Senator Reed.  “The Trump Administration has weakened the State Department and now it is scrambling to adequately perform its duties.  It is unacceptable.  I am willing to work with Secretary Pompeo to do whatever it takes to help Americans overseas return home.  I urge the State Department to do a better job of marshaling every resource available, communicating with people, and providing timely, accurate information.”

 In a letter to Secretary Pompeo today, Senator Reed requested additional information for Rhode Islanders stranded in Liberia, Indonesia, Samoa, and Cape Verde.  He urged the State Department to “do everything it can to assist Americans abroad who wish to return home – including the provision of emergency flights.” 

Text of the letter follows:

March 26, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary
U.S. Department of State 
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

I write to express my continued concern at the inability of many Rhode Islanders to return to the United States due to current and expected travel restrictions and reduction in flights as a result of efforts to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  During times of crisis, American citizens expect their government to assist them and to provide timely information.  As has been widely reported, that has not always occurred. 

Further, my office has been contacted by constituents who are stranded overseas and who often express frustration with the lack of information from the State Department.  In particular, my office has been contacted by more than two dozen constituents who remain overseas and wish to return home.  These Rhode Islanders are currently located in Liberia, Samoa, Indonesia, Cape Verde, Guatemala, Peru, Syria, Honduras, Thailand, Philippines, and Australia.  

Lastly, I would like additional information related to the State Department’s efforts to ensure that my constituents can return from Liberia, Indonesia, Samoa, and Cape Verde.  Information related to these countries has been particularly scarce.  

The State Department must do everything it can to assist Americans abroad who wish to return home – including the provision of emergency flights. 

As my previous correspondence indicated, I stand ready to work with you to assist Americans and the dedicated State Department staff working across the globe. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Jack Reed