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Top US diplomat for Latin America resigns amid disputes over immigration policy

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier stepped down earlier this week, officials have said.

Kimberly Breier, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, has resigned as the Trump administration’s top diplomat for Latin America (Luis Benavides/AP)
Kimberly Breier, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, has resigned as the Trump administration’s top diplomat for Latin America (Luis Benavides/AP)

The Trump administration’s top diplomat for Latin America has resigned amid internal disputes over immigration policy for the region, US officials said Wednesday.

Two officials and a congressional aide said Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier stepped down earlier this week, although they offered differing reasons for her departure.

They say Ms Breier cited personal reasons for her decision, but the two officials suggested it was prompted by differences over a recent migration accord with Guatemala.

The congressional aide said Ms Breier’s departure was mainly driven by family responsibilities.

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Ms Breier reportedly clashed with officials over US-Guatemala immigration policy (Oliver de Ros/AP)

The officials and the aide spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss personnel matters. The State Department had no immediate comment.

The Washington Post, which first reported Ms Breier’s resignation, said she had clashed with the White House over the Guatemala accord that many human rights advocates oppose.

In a tweet, US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka thanked Ms Breier for her “friendship and great service” and said she would miss working with her.

Ms Breier is the second senior State Department official to leave the administration this month.

Last week, Kiron Skinner, the department’s director of policy planning, was removed from her post following complaints about her management style, officials said.

The Trump administration has struggled to fill numerous senior diplomatic positions and only recently were top diplomats for East Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East confirmed by the Senate.

The posts of assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia and for Europe are occupied by officials on an acting basis.

Ms Breier, who specialized in Mexico, joined the Trump administration in October 2018, after a career in government and the private sector focused on Latin America.

She had been praised for her insights and analysis of the region while serving on the National Security Council during the George W Bush administration.

But her refusal to testify before Congress even once during her 10-month tenure had irritated several lawmakers.

Ms Breier was known to have an ongoing feud with Mauricio Claver-Carone, her Western Hemisphere counterpart at the National Security Council, the two staffers said.

They said she also was marginalised from playing a role in policy toward Venezuela — with immigration and trade, the most-pressing foreign policy challenge in the region — after Trump named Elliott Abrams as special envoy to the crisis-wracked country.

PA

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