US special envoy for Haiti resigns in protest over migrant removals
Daniel Foote called the Biden administration actions "inhumane."
The U.S. special envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, has resigned in protest over the Biden administration removals of Haitians from the southern border, calling them "inhumane."
The White House pushed back strongly against Foote's criticisms, and the State Department accused him of not telling the truth about his involvement in the policy-making process.
In his resignation letter Foote protested the Biden administration's decision to deport Haitian migrants gathered in Del Rio, Texas.
"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 the blistering letter obtained by ABC News. "Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”
Ned Price, the State Department's top spokesman, bluntly rejected claims Foote made in his resignation letter.
"For him to say his proposals were ignored is simply false," Price said in a statement. "There have been multiple senior-level policy conversations on Haiti, where all proposals, including those led by Special Envoy Foote, were fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process. Some of those proposals were determined to be harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and were rejected during the policy process."
"It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterized the circumstances of his resignation," Price said.
"No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas," he added. "This is a challenging moment that requires leadership. He failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, defended the administration’s policies.
"Special envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure," Psaki told ABC News White House Correspondent MaryAlice Parks on Thursday. "He never once did so. Now that wasn't his purview. His purview was, of course, being the special envoy on the ground. His positions were and his views were put forward. They were valued. They were heard. Different policy decisions were made in some circumstances."
Psaki said that the administration had, in fact, stopped using horse patrols against the Haitians in Del Rio. The Department of Homeland Security had announced the change earlier in the day, saying it was temporary.
“We have taken very specific actions as it relates to the horrific photos that we -- we’re not going to stand for in this administration,” Psaki told reporters. “I don't know if he was referring to that or something else.”
After thousands of Haitians and other migrants took shelter in an encampment under a bridge in the south Texas town of Del Rio, the Biden administration has been removing many back to Haiti and Mexico. It continued to do so Thursday despite demands from Congressional Black Caucus members and other Democrats that they be stopped.
The migrant surge comes after Haiti experienced a tumultuous summer.
In July, Haiti's president was assassinated, leaving the country politically unstable. A month later, the country was rocked by a devastating earthquake that left thousands dead. And the countries streets are still run by gangs, leaving much of the population vulnerable to daily violence.
As many as 12,000 Haitians and other migrants took shelter in an encampment under a bridge in the border town , the Biden administration has been removing many back to Haiti and Mexico.