Mon | Nov 29, 2021

US special envoy to Haiti resigns over migrant expulsions

Published:Thursday | September 23, 2021 | 9:32 AM
US Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sunday, September 19, 2021. Thousands of Haitian migrants have been arriving in Del Rio, Texas as authorities attempt to close the border to stop the flow of migrants. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

The Biden administration's special envoy to Haiti has resigned, protesting “inhumane” large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland wracked by civil strife and natural disaster, US officials said Thursday.

Daniel Foote was appointed to the position only in July, following the assassination of Haiti's president.

Even before the migrant expulsions from the small Texas border town of Del Rio, the career diplomat was known to be deeply frustrated with what he considered a lack of urgency in Washington and a glacial pace on efforts to improve conditions in Haiti.

Foote wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”

“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 to daily life,” he wrote.

“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”

Two US officials with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed the resignation on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss it publicly.

One official, who was not authorised to publicly discuss personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Foote had consistently sought greater oversight of Haiti policy and that the administration did not believe his requests were appropriate.

Foote's sudden departure leaves a void in US policy toward Haiti and adds another prominent, critical voice to the administration's response to Haitians camped on the Texas border.

The administration's US ambassador, Michele Sison, another career diplomat, is expected to depart soon after being nominated to serve as the State Department's assistant secretary of international organisation affairs.

The camp has shrunk considerably since surpassing more than 14,000 people on Saturday – many of them expelled and many released in the US with notices to report to immigration authorities.

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