A top US envoy to Haiti resigned on Wednesday, citing the Biden administration’s “inhuman” efforts to deport hundreds of Haitian migrants to their homeland, which is recovering from a deadly earthquake and is plagued by political instability, widespread insecurity and crippling poverty.
Ambassador Daniel Foote, who was chosen to be the US special envoy to Haiti in July, called the Biden administration’s policy in Haiti “deeply flawed” and said that his recommendations were set aside.
“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 US officials are restricted to securing associations due to the danger of armed gangs controlling daily life,” Foote wrote in his notice of termination to Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, received by CBS News.
In response to the recent sharp rise in Haitian arrivals to the Texas border community of Del Rio and the emergence of a massive camp that once housed 15,000 migrants, the Biden administration launched a deportation blitz into Haiti.
Since Sunday, the United States has conducted 12 deportation flights to Haiti, which has deported more than 1,400 migrants there, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has said the deportations will continue on a “regular basis”.
The United States plans to conduct up to seven daily deportation flights to Haiti in the coming days, a person informed of the plan told CBS News. The Biden administration is also in talks with Chile and Brazil to see if they can accommodate Haitians who previously lived in those countries, DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress on Wednesday.
In his farewell letter, Foote said that Haiti’s “collapsed state” would not be able to accommodate hundreds of deportees. The deportations, he said, could also backfire, causing more Haitians to flee and head to the United States
“The people of Haiti, who are plagued by poverty, hostage-taking, terrorism, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and who are suffering from a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returning migrants who lack food, shelter and money without further, inevitable human tragedy, ”Foote wrote in his letter, which was was first published by PBS NewsHour.
Foote also criticized the administration for supporting Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who became Haiti’s de facto interim leader after President Jovenel Moïse was murdered in July. “The hubris that makes us believe we should choose the winner – again – is impressive,” he wrote.
In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price strongly pushed back on Foote’s claim that his recommendations were dismissed without saying that Foote “failed to take advantage of good opportunities to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead.”
“For him to say that his proposal was ignored is simply false. I do not intend to analyze the content of his resignation letter, but I want to emphasize that we have active political debates in this administration on a number of issues. The role of the President’s Cabinet and his advisers is to give the president the best possible advice, Price says. “No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas.”
The Biden administration has used Division 42, a public health agency first invoked under former President Donald Trump, to deport Haitian migrants to US border detention without court proceedings or asylum.
Democrats in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have called on the administration to halt deportations, citing the dire circumstances in Haiti. The UN, which rarely criticizes US policy, has also condemned the deportation of Haitians as “incompatible with international standards”.
Democratic lawmakers have also expressed outrage over recent images Border guards on horseback aggressively round up and hunt down Haitian migrants in Del Rio. Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, said he expects an internal investigation into the events to be completed next week.
Republicans, on the other hand, have advocated more deportations to Haiti and criticized the administration for allowing some of the migrants who met in Del Rio to stay in the United States while seeking asylum.
The high rate of deportations to Haiti could make the operation one of the largest and fastest US mass deportations of migrants by air. The effort also highlights the difference in the Biden administration’s various statements and policies regarding deportations to Haiti.
Follows August 14 earthquake which killed more than 2,000 people, US expulsion flights to Haiti were stopped. They were resumed last week after the United States made an assessment that conditions in the country “have improved sufficiently”.
But a few weeks before, when the United States protected Haitians who had been in the United States since July 29 from deportation, DHS said the move was justified because Haiti “was grappling with a worsening political crisis, violence and a staggering increase in human rights abuses.”
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