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US special envoy to Haiti quits


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US special envoy to Haiti quits
Migrants seeking asylum in the United States grab onto a rope while crossing the Rio Grande river into Mexico near the International Bridge between Mexico and the US. (Reuters) - Reuters

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WASHINGTON – The United States special envoy to Haiti resigned in protest on Thursday in a letter that blasted the Biden administration for deporting hundreds of migrants back to the crisis-engulfed Caribbean nation from a camp on the border of the U.S. and Mexico in recent days.

Daniel Foote, a career diplomat named to his post in July, said conditions in Haiti were so bad that U.S. officials were confined to secure compounds.

He said the “collapsed state” was unable to support the infusion of returning migrants.

“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants,” Foote said in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that was circulated publicly on Thursday.

The U.S. has returned 1,401 migrants from the camp to Haiti and taken another 3 206 people into custody, the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has gone through profound instability in recent weeks, including a presidential assassination, gang violence and a major earthquake.

Filippo Grandi, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, warned that this week the U.S. expulsions to Haiti might violate international law.

Foote submitted his resignation to Blinken on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said, adding that Washington was committed to the long-term well-being of Haiti, as well as offering immediate help to returning migrants.

The resignation follows growing pressure on the administration of U.S. president Joe Biden from the United Nations and his fellow Democrats over the treatment of Haitians in a sprawling impromptu migrant camp in Texas near the Mexican border.

Biden’s handling of what Republicans portray as a crisis at the border – including record numbers of migrant detentions this year – led to growing disillusionment from advocates who hoped for an end to deterrent measures brought in by his predecessor Donald Trump.

A State Department spokesman said Foote resigned on Wednesday and gave no indication of a change in policy, saying the U.S. is working with the International Organisation on Migration to ensure that returning Haitian migrants are met at the airport and provided with immediate assistance.

(Reuters)