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In Picard, Picard has a small but loyal staff at his home. His housekeeper appears to be a Romulan. At the same time there is great tension between the Federation and the Romulans, not helped by the withdrawal of Federation help from the evacuation of Romulus.

Given the security concerns, how can the Federation tolerate Romulans living and working among them?

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    I've only seen the 1st episode, but wasn't it said that his Romulan staff were refugees that he saved? – Remy Lebeau Feb 4 at 23:08
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    What possible input could, or should, Picard's former employer have on his hiring or cohabitation decisions? – Martha Feb 4 at 23:20
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    @Martha - Erm, because having Romulan spies living with someone who has intimate knowledge of the Federation's defences and strategies seems like a vast security risk – Valorum Feb 4 at 23:36
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    I wonder -- are Laris and Zhaban documented aliens? – A. I. Breveleri Feb 5 at 13:17
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    I'm having a hard time deciding how to deal with a question (not to mention many comments and answers) that seem to hinge on assuming that racial profiling is not only acceptable, but accurate and worthwhile. How is it that everyone seems totally okay with assuming that a character being of a certain race means they're (maybe? probably?) an enemy? Haven't we moved past this? – dwizum Feb 5 at 21:20
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The Romulan Star Empire appears to be gone

The supernova decimated the Romulans. While they may still have a government, they clearly are no longer the political power they were during the TNG era. We see humans and Romulans interacting freely in

the reclamation project surrounding the Borg cube. We see Narek and Soji Asha not only interact, but have sex.

Whatever political forces existed that kept other races out appears to be gone.

Picard's staff are likely considered refugees

There is precedence for that. Worf was a Klingon refugee on Earth after a Starfleet officer saved him from the Khitomer Massacre.

There's exigent circumstances

There's also the fact that

in the prequel comic Star Trek: Countdown, they defected from the Tal Shiar to help Picard

Spoiler quote

But in the process of befriending Picard, Laris and Zhaban saw him show more care and interest in Romulan lives than their own superiors (the nearly-abandoned Yuyat Betans were, after all, citizens of the Empire). In the end, they double defected from both the Council and the Tal Shiar, and returned control of the Verity to Picard.

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    Just how subjugated do you have to be when going from an officer of the Tal Shiar to serving 'Tea, Earle Grey, Hot'? Picard doesn't seem to be able to differentiate his two housekeepers (a generous term) from a replicator. – Jeeped Feb 5 at 2:24
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    @Martha - I thought I was until I saw fealty and subservervience where no other saw the same. Perhaps this is an act of covert intelligence that we are not yet aware of. Personally, I saw a Picard in the first two episodes that I wasn't familiar with. Not personally diplomatic but only diplomatic on a wide philosophical sense. If it can be assumed that this series will expand on his defense of an android (Data) as a being with rights and privileges then the treatment of his 'housekeeping staff' is is a false start; more akin to 'Downton Abbey' than a future utopian society. – Jeeped Feb 5 at 5:02
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    I saw it differently. Picard is retired and the implication is so are his Romulan friends. They serve him because they respect him and they enjoy his company. Besides, the Tal Shiar is gone and they are probably considered traitors by some of their kind. – Machavity Feb 5 at 5:11
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    I don't think they are housekeepers in the strictest sense. More like caretakers. Picard is aging and needs the kind of help that all aging people need. His friends are giving that help out of respect. You can see this in the way they "joke" about loosing their job, and the way the argue with him and call him a fool. – coteyr Feb 6 at 8:13
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    @Adamant You seem to also be missing that they consider Picard like family. Neither needs a job, but they both clearly enjoy the sense of purpose Picard shares with them. Or do you think Picard runs a vineyard and winery to get rich? – Machavity Feb 6 at 13:10
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The political landscape has changed dramatically.

enter image description here

First of all, we learned in Star Trek (2009) that the destruction of the Hobus star in 2387 had obliterated the home solar system of the Romulan people (including the planets Romulus and Remus) and effectively removed the centre of power of the Romulan Star Empire. As we can see from even the first two episodes of Picard, the political landscape of the Alpha and Beta quadrants has radically changed by 2399 (the year in which Season 1 is set).

In particular, it is revealed in the second episode, "Maps and Legends", that there is a now a Romulan Free State, which in particular is operating the

Borg cube reclamation project known as "The Artifact".

The Federation has technology and expertise to gain.

The Romulan situation seems to be wholly different from the TNG era. While secretive aspects of Romulan culture persist, the paranoid political and militaristic structures that prevented everyday Romulan citizens from interacting with members of other cultures beyond the Neutral Zone seem to be completely absent. For instance, within the

Borg reclamation operation

we see Federation and Romulan scientists working side by side, sharing technology (as well as other aspects of their lives, as @Machavity remarks).

enter image description here

Therefore, there is already some level of cooperation between the Federation and the new Romulan government.

enter image description here

While the Federation will undoubtedly have security concerns to manage, there is likely much to gain from allowing the seemingly unimpeded movement of individuals from the destabilized remnants of Romulan society — in particular the potential to acquire previously inaccessible technology that Romulan refugees may be willing to trade in order to secure resources and status in the Federation.

Further to this,

Soji refers explicitly in “Remembrance” to the trade of Borg technology recovered from The Artifact by Romulans, including potentially by Narek.

Picard and his Romulan house guests may be under constant (and potentially invisible) scrutiny by Starfleet Security.

As for Picard himself, he is not an ordinary Federation citizen. Given his legendary status, should he wish to have Romulan guests / staff on his vineyard, there is potentially little anyone can do to stop this directly. One has to assume that, at this point, he cares little about Starfleet security concerns and that Starfleet, rather than put a formal stop to his fraternizing, is monitoring him and his Romulan guests for any breaches or unusual activity.

Indeed, despite Admiral Clancy’s call in “Maps and Legends” to Commodore Oh (the current Director of Starfleet Security), Oh was in fact already aware of Picard’s activities, including salient details unknown to Clancy.

enter image description here

Section 31 in particular has a history of letting situations play out to their advantage. It would be consistent with their modus operandi to monitor these two former Tal Shiar agents, namely Picard’s house guests Laris and Zhaban, as a means to gain information and insight into any potential Romulan plots.

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    One thing I'm hoping they look at during season 1 is whether the Federation is now permitted to develop cloaking technology – SpacePhoenix Feb 5 at 11:36
  • @SpacePhoenix Meh. They already have access to an operational cloak which they can operate themselves (since the Defiant), and cloaking technology doesn't seem all that great. – Upper_Case Feb 5 at 17:04
  • @Upper_Case that cloak was destroyed when the Breen/Dominion fleet destroyed the original Defiant. I don't remember the new one having a cloaking device – SpacePhoenix Feb 5 at 19:28
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    And the Romulans were allies in the war against the Dominion. – Acccumulation Feb 6 at 3:55
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    Presumably cloaking technology is in a race with sensor technology, which we've seen even as far back as Undiscovered Country; it's entirely possibly it's no longer worth trying to cloak a larger vessel. – jeffronicus Feb 6 at 16:14
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As I see it, there are two parts to the question. Why are they working for Picard, and in apparently subservient roles? AND How are they permitted by Authorities to be so close with Picard?

To answer the 2nd part, Picard is no longer part of Starfleet. Starfleet does not control Earth, and nor does the Federation. So those who might object to this close association, would have no authority to stop it.

The first issue is a little more complex.
As a general rule, you'll notice that Star Trek often downplays technology in order to illustrate individual characters.
We see in some episodes that a single individual can operate a starship simply by issuing computer commands, but tat doesn't stop them having a huge clue. After preliminary scans their first investigative tactic is to deploy an away team, when sending drone or probes would be much safer and more efficient.

From their familiarity, we're to assume that the Romulan pair are Picard's friends. They share his accommodations and provide him with company. They're assigned "roles" to give them a bit more "humanity" and context, rather than simply depicting everyone sitting on their bums being served by replicators.
If we delve more deeply, in a society where such menial roles have been abolished, the implication is that they choose to look after Picard, as one might a Parent or Uncle.
(One thing they haven't shied away from, is depicting Picard as he is, OLD.)

As for the Tea, the line is iconic, that's why it's there.

One further point regarding the tea. It is easy to imagine that in a future dominated by technology, humans might take comfort in still performing small function manually. Especially since the ritual of making and serving tea is enshrined in many cultures.

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    Starfleet does not control Earth, and nor does the Federation. — Federation doesn't control Earth? [citation needed] – user28434 Feb 5 at 16:52
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    Sending drones/probes would be much more efficient, and much less conducive to telling a story to which humans can relate ☺. – Matthew Feb 5 at 17:16
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    "Federation doesn't control Earth? [citation needed] – user28434" Certainly at the time of joining the Federation, Earth is depicted as a Parliamentary Republic. Whilst the exact nature of Earth's Planetary Government is seldom explored, other Federation planets (or potentials) are depicted as having their own leadership. My point is simply that antipathy towards the Romulans, from Starfleet or even (less likely) The Federation, need not be fully emulated by the Government of Earth. Particularly if they are regarded as Refugees – Floyd Feb 5 at 23:39
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    Not hard to believe. They are foreigners, and more than that, refugees. It's very common for foreigners to have menial jobs compared to what they used to do, like in Heroes both Mohinder's father and Mohinder being brilliant scientists... Who are driving cabs. It's even worse for refugees, again with a doctor in Syria flipping burgers hereH. With the Romulans stateless and scattered to the winds, every planet that would take them having uncomfortably too many, "winery manager" where they actually get to leverage their core skills as vintners, is a frickin' good job. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 6 at 0:11
  • "but tat doesn't stop them having a huge clue. " I take it you mean "but that doesn't stop them having a huge crew"? Also, "and nor" is redundant. – Acccumulation Feb 6 at 3:57
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After reading the comics that are a prequel to Picard, I can only assume it's because the Romulans had nowhere else to go, Earth and the federation had to accept their presence on earth and they took to Picard as the one who tried to save them.

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    upvoting because it actually references material specifically created to answer the question (the comic) – NKCampbell Feb 5 at 22:50

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