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US Special Envoy to Haiti resigns amid crisis at the border

Sep 23, 2021


America’s Special Envoy for Haiti Daniel Foote has resigned from his position, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday. The anonymous officials had direct knowledge of the matter, but were not authorized to publicly discuss personnel matters according to Reuters news service.

“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti,” Foote wrote in his resignation letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The letter was dated Wednesday, and obtained by the Washington Post and other news sources.

One of the anonymous officials said Foote had consistently sought greater oversight of Haiti policy, and that the administration did not believe his requests were appropriate. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed,” Foote wrote in the letter.

He was appointed to the special envoy position in July, following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. His departure leaves a sudden void in America’s policy toward Haiti.

“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 infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy,” Foote wrote. “Surging migration to our borders will only grow as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.”

The White House responded to the resignation during Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s daily briefing. Clips from the briefing can be found in the video above.

“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 policy process,” Psaki said. “Special envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure. He never once did so.”

Foote’s resignation as Special Envoy comes as the camp where more than 14,000 migrants waited along the Texas border has shrunk dramatically. Meanwhile, the camp across the Rio Grande in Mexico is growing, as is the police presence.

Migrants found state police trucks spaced every 30 feet or so between their tents and the water’s edge. Despite this, dozens of families opted to hustle into the river and cross into the U.S. at a point where there was only one Mexican municipal police vehicle around.

According to the Associated Press, the Mexican authorities’ operation appeared designed to drive the migrants back across the river into Texas. A fence line and the line of state police vehicles funneled the migrants back to the crossing point they had been using all week.

But on Tuesday the Associated Press reported Mexico had begun busing and flying Haitian migrants away from the U.S. border, signaling a new level of support for the United States.

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Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “First, I would note there have been multiple senior level policy conversations on Haiti, where all proposals, including those led by special envoy (Daniel) Foote, were fully considered in a rigorous policy process. There are disagreements in these policy processes that the president welcomes that, the secretary of state welcomes that. That’s certainly a part of having discussions and having robust discussions about the best path forward for difficult circumstances. Some of those proposals were harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti. I’m not going to detail that further. I will let the State Department do that should they choose to. But I would note that special envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure. 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.”

Reporter: “But it’s not just him. We’ve heard from Democrats on Capitol Hill who say they’re really against these mass deportations. The White House still stands behind the vast deportations, they, do you still view them as humane?”

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “First of all, they’re not deportations. People are not coming into the country through legal methods. And again, our policy process has continued to be the same with Haiti as it is for anybody coming through in a further irregular migration across our border. I’d note, as I did yesterday, that as we’ve applied our border restrictions, as we’ve applied our immigration policies, there were more than 90,000 people who departed the country, who who attempted to cross our border in the month of August. That was even before we saw the horrible photos that we saw of people gathering under the bridge. There is a process that is in place as people, whether they’re coming from Haiti or any part of the world, goes through.”

Reporter: “What does he believe the comparisons being made between this administration and the Trump administration?”

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary: “We could not see it as any more different from the policy of the prior administration, which the president feels, we all feel, was inhumane, immoral, ineffective, not operationally, wasn’t operationally working. And because of the dysfunction of it, we have led to a very broken system that we’re dealing with today. So what he has asked all of us to convey clearly to people who are understandably have questions, are passionate, are concerned, as we are about the images that we have seen is one, we feel those images are horrible and horrific. There is an investigation the president certainly supports overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, which he has conveyed will will happen quickly. I can also convey to you that the secretary also conveyed to civil rights leaders earlier this morning that we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio. So that is something, a policy change that has been made in response. But separately, all related, it’s also important for people to understand what our process and our immigration process is and what the steps are that are taken. We are still under Title 42 because we are in a global pandemic. So we are still operationalizing that. If people are not are not expelled under that, then they are, there are a range of options. Either they are put into a alternative to detention where they, where biometric data is required. They are required to they’re given a notice to appear or they are given or they are put in an ice facility. This is the process that is ongoing and has happened for every other migrant who has attempted to come irregularly across the border.”

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