A senior US diplomat who oversees Haitian politics has resigned, two US officials said, submitting a letter to the State Department denouncing the Biden administration’s “inhuman and counterproductive decision” to return Haitian migrants to a country that was rocked this summer by a deadly earthquake and political unrest following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
The diplomat, Daniel Foote, was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July, just weeks after Mr. Moïse was shot dead in his bedroom during a nighttime raid on his residence. Mr Foote, a former ambassador to Zambia and acting deputy secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, did not respond to messages for comment Thursday morning.
In his scathing resignation letter, Mr. Foote criticized the Biden administration for deporting some of the thousands of Haitian migrants who had made their way to the Texas border from Mexico and Central America in recent days.
“I will not be associated with the inhuman and counterproductive decision of the United States to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined in secure complexes due to the danger represented by the armed gangs controlling daily life. “, wrote Mr. Foote in the letter, which was first reported by PBS NewsHour. Its authenticity has been confirmed by a senior State Department official and congressional official.
Mr. Foote also blasted a “cycle of international political interventions in Haiti” which “has consistently produced catastrophic results,” and warned that the number of migrants to US borders “will only increase as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.”
In May, the Biden administration extended temporary protected status for the 150,000 Haitians already living in the United States. But tens of thousands of other Haitians have attempted to cross to the United States since then, despite not qualifying for the program.
Mr. Foote has reportedly been pushing for increased oversight and accountability in his envoy work to Haiti, efforts which were rejected by senior State Department officials.
In his resignation letter, Mr. Foote confirmed that “my recommendations were ignored and rejected”.
“Our political approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed,” he wrote.
The increase in Haitian migration began in the months after President Biden took office and quickly began to overturn former President Donald J. Trump’s more stringent immigration policies, resulting in been interpreted by many as a sign that the United States would be more welcoming towards migrants.
This week, the U.S. border patrol said more than 9,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, were being held in a temporary transit zone under the Del Rio International Bridge, as officers were working as quickly as possible to process them.