State Department Fires Back at Exiting US Envoy to Haiti

Diplomat accuses US of 'inhumane' policies, and the department says he's distorting facts
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2021 8:25 AM CDT
Updated Sep 23, 2021 2:25 PM CDT
US Special Envoy to Haiti Resigns, Slams White House
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

The Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti has resigned, protesting "inhumane" large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland as it is wracked by civil strife and natural disaster, US officials said Thursday. Daniel Foote was appointed to the position in July, following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenal Moise. 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, per the AP.

  • His letter: Foote wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes." He added that "I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti. ... Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed." Read it in full via PBS.
  • In response: The State Department criticized Foote for resigning at a critical juncture and pushed back against suggestions that his policy prescriptions were overlooked. “This is a challenging moment that requires leadership,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “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.” As far as Foote's ideas being dismissed, Price shot back that "no ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas."

  • Another beef: Foote also criticized the White House for supporting de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry after the recent assassination. “The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner—again—is impressive,” he wrote, per the Washington Post.
  • Refugees: Up to 14,000 migrants are expected to be returned to Haiti over the new few weeks, notes the New York Times, and Foote says the nation cannot accommodate them. The influx of migrants will only "fuel further desperation and crime," he says, and lead to further migration to the US, per the Wall Street Journal.
(The use of whips by border officers on Haitian migrants at the US border was previously condemned by the White House.)

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