US envoy to Haiti resigns in protest over migrant deportations

Washington, Sep 23 (EFE).- The United States’ special envoy to Haiti has submitted his resignation to the State Department in protest over Washington’s move to repatriate thousands of undocumented Haitian migrants who have arrived at the US-Mexico border.

In the resignation letter he sent Wednesday to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Daniel Foote said he “will not be associated with” that “inhumane, counterproductive decision” by President Joe Biden’s administration.

He referred to the risks those asylum seekers and undocumented migrants will face in Haiti, “a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

The Haitian people are “mired in poverty (and) hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances,” Foote said.

They “simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.”

He described Haiti as a “collapsed state” and said sending people back to that Caribbean nation will only fuel further migration from there to the US.

Referring to the root causes of Haiti’s ongoing crisis, Foote said its people want the “opportunity to chart their own course without international puppeteering and favored candidates.”

“I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably.”

Besides Foote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also has urged the Biden administration to halt the deportation of Haitian migrants.

“I’m told there are four flights scheduled to deport these asylum seekers back to a country that cannot receive them,” he said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “Such a decision defies common sense. It also defies common decency.”

Haitian migrants have arrived from Brazil and Chile (to where they had migrated in search of work) after the US Department of Homeland Security in May announced a new Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for 18 months for Haiti, which has since been rocked by the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise and a devastating Aug. 14 earthquake that left more than 2,000 dead.

However, only Haitians living in the US before July 29 are eligible for TPS, a point that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tried to drive home on Monday on a press call with Haitian media in which he said the influx of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, has justified an increase in repatriation flights.

“We are committed to developing safe, legal, and orderly pathways for migration. What we are seeing now does not qualify as that. We have no choice at this point but to increase repatriation flights,” the DHS secretary said on the call.

Foote’s letter was sent days after photos of horse-mounted US Border Patrol agents blocking migrants’ advance across the Rio Grande river sparked controversy and calls for investigations by immigration activists.

Those images were taken near the Del Rio, Texas-Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, border crossing, where thousands of mostly-Haitian migrants have arrived in recent days and are currently camped under an international bridge.

Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday called Mayorkas to express her “grave concerns” about the mistreatment of Haitian migrants by border patrol agents on horses,” her office said Wednesday.

The reporting of a phone conversation between the vice president and a Cabinet member – a rarity at the White House – shows how politically delicate the migrant crisis is for Biden and Harris, who both harshly criticized Donald Trump as brutally insensitive to the plight of migrants and asylum seekers.

The vice president, who among other things is tasked with addressing the root causes of illegal immigration, stressed to Mayorkas “the need of all agents to treat people with dignity, humanely and consistent with our laws and our values,” her chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, said in a statement.

Mayorkas told Harris that he shared her concerns and noted that his department has launched an investigation into the incidents, the statement read. EFE


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