Share

Americans, 8-1, oppose immunity for foreign scofflaws like freed Indian

By |
Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,United Nations,India

Americans have had it with foreign diplomats breaking U.S. laws and then receiving a “get out of jail free” pass, according to a new poll that shows overwhelming opposition to the practice of giving lawbreakers stationed at the United Nations and Washington embassies diplomatic immunity.

The new YouGov poll bolsters the State Department's Dec. 12 arrest and strip search of a top Indian diplomat charged with falsifying visa information for her Indian maid and paying her pauper's wages of $600 a month despite promises of $4,500 a month.

The prosecution of Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York City, has roiled U.S.-India relations. Images of President Obama have been burned in New Delhi. Khobragade has denied the charges, even claiming that her maid had tried to blackmail her.

India claims she has diplomatic immunity, but federal officials said that the rights to foreign officials only extends to their governmental duties.

On Friday, Khobragade flew back to New Delhi after she was indicted then granted diplomatic immunity from visa fraud charges.

Americans backed her prosecution — forcefully. And they don’t give a hoot about what India thinks.

YouGov said that 51 percent believe that foreign diplomats should be prosecuted for breaking U.S. laws, not granted immunity. Just 6 percent said that diplomats should get immunity from prosecution.

And Americans do not have a double standard on the issue. They believe, by a margin of 45 percent to 9 percent, that U.S. diplomats residing in foreign countries should be subject to arrest when they break the law.

The poll also found little support for giving Khobragade immunity to preserve U.S.-India relations. Some 41 percent said that it is more important to prosecute her than maintain good relations, which 25 percent backed.

One final note from YouGov: “Interestingly, support for the prosecution of Devyani Khobragade specifically is marginally higher (at 41 percent) than the proportion of Americans who say that foreign diplomats in general should be subject to arrest for similar offenses of violating labor laws (38 percent) and filing false visa claims (36 percent).”

Updated Jan. 10

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.