On September 22nd, US appointed special envoy for Haiti, Ambassador Daniel Lewis Foote resigned as a result of the fiasco that the Haitian migrant crisis has turned into.
Daniel Foote, a career diplomat named to his post in July, said the “collapsed state” was unable to support the infusion of returning migrants.
The tough letter addressed to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, blamed the “inhumane” and “counterproductive” decision to deport thousands of Haitians back to a country where armed gangs are in control of daily life.
“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants,” Foote said.
Foote also said his recommendations on Haiti have been ignored and slammed the US support of the “unelected, de facto” prime minister, Dr. Ariel Henry.
“The hubris that makes us believe we should pick a winner – again – is impressive,” Foote wrote.
Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has been hit in recent weeks by a presidential assassination, gang violence and a major earthquake.
The United States has returned more than 1,400 migrants from the camp in Del Rio, Texas to Haiti, including families, and moved over 3,200 people for processing away from the encampment, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said.
At its peak on September 18th there were some 15,000 people at the camp, around two-thirds of those families, the officials said.
Many of the migrants hope to stay in the United States and seek asylum.
But an expulsion policy in place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic means most may not get that opportunity.
Foote submitted his resignation to Blinken on September 22nd, a State Department spokesperson said, adding that Washington was committed to the long-term wellbeing of Haiti, as well as offering immediate help to returning migrants.
State Department spokesman Ned Price rejected Foote’s criticism, saying that “instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterized the circumstances of his resignation.”
“He failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead,” said Price.
Foote’s decision was interpreted and welcomed by rights groups as a stern criticism of the administration’s immigration strategy.
Biden’s handling of the situation at the border, where record numbers have been detained this year, has led to growing disillusionment from humanitarian activists who hoped that he would overturn former President Donald Trump’s decisions and actions. Instead, he has exacerbated them.
Julian Castro, a former housing secretary, wrote in a tweet that “it’s baffling and disappointing that President Biden has not spoken out about the mistreatment and continued deportation of Haitian asylum-seekers.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, said on a Twitter video that the Haitians should be granted asylum.
“If you come from a nation where the president has been assassinated in the last 60 days, followed by an earthquake, followed by a hurricane, I don’t know how you can more qualify for asylum than that,” he said.
Many of the Haitians first tried to make a life in South America. Migrants have said they decided to head north when they encountered discrimination and dwindling opportunities in countries like Brazil and Chile.
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