The US special envoy to Haiti has resigned over the Joe Biden administration's “inhumane” deportation of Haitian migrants from the US’s southern border back to their home country.
Daniel Foote announced his resignation in a scathing letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, saying he "will not be associated with the United States' inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees” from the US-Mexico border.
Foote said the US policy approach to Haiti and the Haitian migrants is “deeply flawed,” and that his “recommendations have been ignored and dismissed.”
Stressing that Haitians needed "immediate assistance," the diplomat said the country is a "collapsed state" that "simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.”
The resignation came after the Biden administration started last weekend deportation flights from a Texas border town where about 13,000 Haitian and other Latin American migrants had gathered in a makeshift camp under a bridge.
Since Sunday, the US has returned to Haiti 1,401 migrants from the Texas camp in Del Rio on the border with Mexico.
Earlier this week, a Democrat activist revealed in a report that the mounted Border Patrol agents were using “whips” on the migrants, stirring outrage in the media and on Capitol Hill.
That led to pressure on Biden's administration, with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcing on Tuesday that it was investigating the treatment of Haitian migrants by Customs and Border Patrol agents after video and images surfaced of the agents on horseback chasing down migrants at the southern border.
US State Department defends Biden's policy
The State Department described Foote’s resignation as "unfortunate" and defended the Biden administration's policies toward Haiti.
"It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy (Daniel) Foote has both resigned and mischaracterized the circumstances of his resignation," department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
"He failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead."
Many Haitians have left the country since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. The US-linked assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse in July has also plunged the country into political crisis.
Hundreds of people tried to cross Mexico on foot this month in caravans but were blocked by the Mexican authorities.
Around 40,000 migrants are also stranded in southern Mexico. Those who crossed the border are now stranded in the city of Tapachula, which rights activists describe as a dead end for people who are waiting to get permission to continue their journey into the US.
The city of 350,000 faces overcrowding, inadequate healthcare and the risk of coronavirus infection, medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said last week.