U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti Daniel Foote resigned Thursday, saying that he did not want to be associated with what he called the United States’ “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees” back to the island nation.
The resignation letter by the former US Ambassador to Zambia to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which was first obtained by the PBS NewsHour, comes as the Biden administration is facing widespread backlash over its treatment of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, where images of horseback border patrol agents using reins against migrants have sparked outrage. Activists and some lawmakers have also been calling for the Biden administration to suspend deportations to Haiti. In his letter, Foote criticizes the deportations.
“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,” Foote wrote in his resignation letter. “Our policy approach to Haïti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”
He goes on to say that Haiti, a country facing a number of crises including political turmoil after the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, humanitarian problems after an earthquake rocked the nation last month, and security issues after kidnapping have skyrocketed, cannot absorb hundreds of migrants who have been sent back on daily repatriation flights.
“The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy,” Foote said. “The collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services, and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime. Surging migration to our borders will only grow as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.”
Officials from the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.