U.S. Envoy to Haiti Resigns in Protest, Drawing White House Rebuke
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. envoy for Haiti resigned over President Joe Biden’s treatment of Haitian migrants along the border with Mexico, drawing an unusually stern rebuttal from the White House and State Department.
Special Envoy Daniel Foote, a career diplomat appointed to the job in July, resigned in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. He called the Biden administration’s decision to send Haitian migrants back to their own country “inhumane” and said his recommendations for how to address the issue “have been ignored and dismissed.”
The State Department initially issued a statement thanking Foote for his service. Then, a few hours later, department spokesman Ned Price delivered a sharp rebuke, saying the administration had considered his proposals, some of which it deemed harmful to efforts to promote democracy in Haiti.
“No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas,” Price said. “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.”
Price’s statement was highly unusual for its criticism, especially given Foote’s status as a career diplomat and onetime ambassador, and was echoed later Thursday by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“I would note that Special Envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure,” Psaki said. “He never once did.”
The tone of the response is a sign of the increasing pressure on the administration over the situation at the border. Biden and his team took office promising a more humane border and immigration policy following widespread Democratic criticism of former President Donald Trump’s approach, but they’ve struggled to stem the flow of prospective migrants.
Thousands of Haitian migrants have massed near the Texas town of Del Rio, and immigration activists have criticized the Biden administration for apprehending those who cross the border and quickly returning them on daily flights to Haiti, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
That criticism intensified when images of Border Patrol agents on horseback menacing some of the migrants emerged earlier this week, with top Democrats -- including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer -- criticizing the tactics, and the White House pledging a thorough investigation.
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