Congress Approves Legislation to Protect Federal Officers Working in Foreign Countries

Press Release October 27, 2021

Washington D.C. – The U.S. government could more easily prosecute those who commit crimes against federal employees stationed in other countries under legislation that passed Congress today and is endorsed by the National Treasury Employees Union. 


The Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act was approved with unanimous, bipartisan support and awaits President Biden’s signature. 


“This new law will be welcomed by federal law enforcement who work outside the United States, including Customs and Border Protection employees stationed at 16 preclearance facilities around the world,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “It is essential that the federal government do everything in its power to protect the people who protect us all, whether at home or abroad.” 


The bill was named for two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agents who were attacked in Mexico in 2011. Their attackers were prosecuted but the convictions were overturned on appeal over questions about jurisdiction. This new law clarifies that the Justice Department has the full capability to prosecute those who harm federal employees stationed outside the U.S. 


“CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists at preclearance sites perform essential homeland security roles by screening international travelers before they board flights bound for the U.S., so it makes perfect sense that they are protected by the same laws as their domestic coworkers,” Reardon said. “We applaud Congress and the administration for taking this step to ensure justice should any federal employee stationed in an international location be harmed.” 


NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 34 federal agencies and departments.