Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Today, in response to the continued, brutal repression of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Belarus, the United States and the European Union have taken coordinated action against Belarusian individuals involved in efforts to undermine Belarusian democracy. The U.S. Departments of Treasury and State have exercised separate authorities against 25 Belarusians involved in the 2020 election falsification and human rights violations, joining 16 Belarusian officials sanctioned in 2006 for similar actions, for a total of 41 Belarusian officials.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned eight additional Belarusian officials for their roles in falsifying results of the August 9, 2020, presidential election and the crackdown that followed, pursuant to Executive Order 13405. They include prominent members of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime and security apparatus complicit in the violent crackdown on peaceful election-related protests. Those sanctioned today join a group of 16 individuals and nine entities, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Central Election Commission Chair Yarmoshina, already sanctioned under E.O. 13405. Those designated will be prohibited from any dealing with U.S. persons or dealings within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. Any entities owned 50 percent or more by designated persons are also blocked.
In addition, the U.S. Department of State has taken action pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 8015 to identify 24 Belarusian individuals responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy and impose visa restrictions on them, which makes them generally ineligible for entry into the United States. Some officials have been named under both authorities.
The United States will continue to demand accountability from the Belarusian government for its suppression of democracy, including from those Belarusian officials designated today and the 16 who remain sanctioned. Today’s coordinated action with The European Union demonstrates our strong and continuing commitment to the Belarusian people, who are peacefully demanding their voices be heard, as well as their right to select a leader through free and fair elections.
For more information about today’s actions, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1143.
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Further, DOD estimated that it has cost about $10 million each year since 1989 to use active duty Title 10 forces nationwide, through its Joint Task Force-North, in support of drug law enforcement agencies with some additional operational costs borne by the military services. Agency officials stated multiple benefits from DODs increased border role, such as assistance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Border Patrol until newly hired Border Patrol agents are trained and deployed to the border; providing DOD personnel with training opportunities in a geographic environment similar to current combat theaters; contributing to apprehensions and seizures and deterring other illegal activity along the border; building relationships with law enforcement agencies; and strengthening military-to-military relationships with forces from Mexico.GAO found challenges for the National Guard and for active-duty military forces in providing support to law enforcement missions. For example, under Title 32 of the United States Code, National Guard personnel are permitted to participate in law enforcement activities; however, the Secretary of Defense has precluded National Guard forces from making arrests while performing border missions because of concerns raised about militarizing the U.S. border. As a result, all arrests and seizures at the southwest border are performed by the Border Patrol. Further, DOD officials cited restraints on the direct use of active duty forces, operating under Title 10 of the United States Code in domestic civilian law enforcement, set out in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. In addition, GAO has reported on the varied availability of DOD units to support law enforcement missions, such as some units being regularly available while other units (e.g., ground-based surveillance teams) may be deployed abroadmaking it more difficult to fulfill law enforcement requests.Federal officials stated a number of broad issues and concerns regarding any additional DOD assistance in securing the southwest border. DOD officials expressed concerns about the absence of a comprehensive strategy for southwest border security and the resulting challenges to identify and plan a DOD role. DHS officials expressed concerns that DODs border assistance is ad hoc in that DOD has other operational requirements. DOD assists when legal authorities allow and resources are available, whereas DHS has a continuous mission to ensure border security. Further, Department of State and DOD officials expressed concerns about the perception of a militarized U.S. border with Mexico, especially when Department of State and Justice officials are helping civilian law enforcement institutions in Mexico on border issues.Why GAO Did This StudyDHS reports that the southwest border continues to be vulnerable to cross-border illegal activity, including the smuggling of humans and illegal narcotics. Several federal agencies are involved in border security efforts, including DHS, DOD, Justice, and State. In recent years, the National Guard has played a role in helping to secure the southwest land border by providing the Border Patrol with information on the identification of individuals attempting to cross the southwest land border into the United States. 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