Photo: Black Haitians flown to Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on September 21, 2021.
US Ambassador to Haiti, Daniel Foote, has since resigned.
A top U.S. envoy to Haiti tendered his resignation on Wednesday, citing the Biden administration’s “inhumane” effort to expel hundreds of Haitian migrants to their home country, which is recovering from a deadly earthquake and plagued by political instability, widespread insecurity and crippling poverty.
Ambassador Daniel Foote, who was chosen to be the U.S. special envoy to Haiti in July, called the Biden administration’s policy in Haiti “deeply flawed,” saying his recommendations were brushed 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 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 to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
In response to a recent sharp increase in arrivals of Haitians in the Texas border community of Del Rio, and the emergence of a massive camp there that at one point housed 15,000 migrants, the Biden administration launched a deportation blitz to Haiti.
Since Sunday, the U.S. has carried out 12 deportation flights to Haiti, expelling more than 1,400 migrants there, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has said the expulsions will continue on a “regular basis.”
The U.S. is planning to carry out as many as seven daily expulsion flights to Haiti in the coming days, a person briefed on the plan told CBS News. The Biden administration is also in talks with Chile and Brazil to see if they can receive Haitians who used to live in those countries, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Congress on Wednesday.
In his resignation letter, Foote said Haiti’s “collapsed state” won’t be able to absorb hundreds of deportees. The deportations, he said, could also backfire, prompting more Haitians to flee and head to the U.S.
“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 wrote in his letter, which was first published by PBS NewsHour.
Foote also criticized the administration for backing Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who became Haiti’s de facto interim leader after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July. “The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner — again — is impressive,” he wrote.