October 23, 2021

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Special envoy for Haiti resigns, says cannot support ‘inhumane’ decision to deport Haitian refugees


In the letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foote noted he will not be associated with the government’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.” He added that not only is the U.S.’ approach to Haiti “deeply flawed,” but that his advice has been “ignored and dismissed.”

The resignation letter obtained by PBS News comes two months after Foote started his position in July. Haiti’s president was assassinated prior to Foote’s appointment.

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It follows viral disturbing images and videos posted online in connection to the treatment of Haitian migrants prior to deportations in Texas. The footage appeared to show Border Patrol agents using whips against Haitian migrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico. While the White House called the images and video inappropriate and “horrific,” deportations have continued, Daily Kos reported.

According to the Miami Herald, at least 12 repatriation flights have left the U.S. with more than 1,000 Haitians since Sunday after refugees set up a makeshift camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Thousands of others remain camped there, with more predicted to be on the way.

“The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to 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 wrote in his letter.

He called out the U.S. and other nations for the “puppeteering” of Haitian politics.

“Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support by for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his political agreement over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society,” Foote said. “The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner— again— is impressive. This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results. More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the U.S. and our neighbors in the hemisphere.”

Foote also noted that as we refuse to help, “surging migrants to our borders will only grow as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, migrants are being removed on flights under Title 42 public health protections. Under Title 42, a Trump-era policy, Border Patrol officials can expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. White House officials have defended the law as “not an immigration authority, but a public health authority.” However, advocates see the policy for what it is: a way to turn away in-need migrants under the guise of public health. While a judge ruled the policy shouldn’t apply to families last week, the decision doesn’t take effect for another two weeks—which the Biden administration is also appealing.

“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday, The Guardian reported. Mayorkas’ comments received widespread criticism.

An unnamed State Department official confirmed to the Miami Herald that Foote had submitted his resignation and claimed it was due to “a broader mandate and oversight responsibilities, which we did not think was appropriate or prudent at the time.”  





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