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The US special envoy to Haiti has resigned in protest at what he described as the Biden administration’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision” to deport thousands of Haitian migrants.
The resignation of Daniel Foote, a former US ambassador who took up his latest state department post in July, comes as the White House grapples with a surge of migrants from Haiti who have gathered in the Texas border town of Del Rio.
The Department of Homeland Security said this weekend it would “accelerate the pace and increase the capacity” of deportation flights to Haiti after an estimated 14,000 people gathered under a bridge in the town of 35,000.
In his September 22 resignation letter, first published by US broadcaster PBS on Thursday, Foote said Washington’s policy on Haiti was “deeply flawed” and added his own recommendations had been “ignored and dismissed”.
Foote is a member of the senior foreign service who has previously been posted to Afghanistan, Iraq and several Latin American countries among others.
Ned Price, state department spokesperson, accused Foote of mischaracterising the circumstances of his resignation and failing “to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure”.
“For him to say his proposals were ignored is simply false,” Price said in a statement, adding: “Not all ideas are good ideas”.
US president Joe Biden has been accused by conservatives of overseeing a migration crisis at the US-Mexico border. But the US president is also under fire from many Democrats, who have called the deportation policy “cruel and callous”.
Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake last month and is now in political turmoil after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The country’s economy is flatlining while inflation is forecast to rise above 20 per cent this year.
The Department of Homeland Security has warned that irregular migration poses “a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted”, adding that US borders were closed.
Foote’s resignation follows criticism from more than 50 Democrats, who wrote to the Department of Homeland Security on Friday urging it to stop the deportation flights.
Ayanna Pressley, one of those who signed the letter, said: “The Biden administration cannot claim it is doing everything it can to support the Haitian community while continuing to unjustly deport Haitians as the island weathers its worst political, public health and economic crises yet.”
Foote also criticised the wider US approach to Haiti, saying the US was seeking to influence the future of the political leadership in what he described as “the collapsed state”.
“The hubris that makes us believe that we should pick the winner — again — is impressive,” he wrote.