Haitian envoy resigns

By Grace Hamilton, Staff Writer

The State Department official who served as the U.S. special envoy to Haiti has resigned due to complaints of the Biden administration’s “inhumane” treatment of Haitian immigrants. 

Daniel Foote, who was named the special envoy in July, sent his resignation letter on Sept. 22. His statement, in part, read: “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti…” 

Foote’s assignment as envoy came after the assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse in July. The assassination occurred amid a rising wave of political unrest, gang violence and poverty in the island nation. Consequently, immigration numbers on the U.S. southern border have surged. 

Criticism of the migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas escalated when footage of Border Patrol agents charging immigrants on horseback surfaced. Thousands of Haitian migrants have also been deported back to Haiti. 

“The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres… simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy,” Foote’s letter stated. 

Biden’s immigration policies regarding Haiti have garnered criticism from both sides of the aisle. Democrats claim that Biden’s policies too closely resemble those of former President Donald Trump, while conservatives say too many migrants are being granted asylum in the U.S. 

Foote maintains that his suggestions for policy change have been “ignored and dismissed,” though representatives from the White House claim no concerns were raised during his tenure when he had many chances to do so. 

Health concerns levelled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the increasingly high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Haiti are also influencing immigration policies surrounding the country.

President Biden’s response to the criticism has been to end the horse patrols on the border and to launch an investigation into the images and videos of abuse by the Border Patrol agents. 

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that the administration plans for the Del Rio camp to be emptied by the end of the month. On Sept. 18, migrant numbers were reported to be at 15,000. By Sept. 23, they were down to 4,000. Some 1,400 migrants have been returned to Haiti during the past week, while 3,200 have been transferred to other camps with the capacity to hold them. 

Foote’s resignation letter also included claims that the U.S. is influencing Haitian elections by supporting the de-facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry. 

“The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner – again – is impressive,” Foote wrote. “This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results.” 

State Department spokesman Ned Price criticized Foote for resigning his position instead of making further efforts to rectify the situation. No news of a successor to the position has been released.