The Biden administration’s former special envoy for Haiti has warned that the White House approach to the crisis-hit Caribbean nation is following a “recipe for disaster.”
Daniel Foote resigned in September after the administration expelled thousands of asylum-seekers of Haitian origin, many of whom had created a makeshift encampment near the Texas border town of Del Rio.
“Desperate people without anything being reintroduced into a city with tens of thousands of displaced people already from the gangs [is a] recipe for disaster,” Foote told The Hill on Monday, referring to Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
Haiti is still reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people and caused widespread damage.
The two catastrophes resulted in unrest and instability that has spawned an increase in kidnappings and gangs cementing their control over large swaths of the country.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Ariel Henry survived an assassination attempt.
Thousands of Haitians gathered in September at the US-Mexico border in squalid camps under a bridge, fleeing crushing poverty and escalating crime back home.
The Biden administration expelled the asylum-seekers using the Title 42 health policy, which allows the government to remove people who come from a country where communicable diseases — like COVID-19 — are present.
Foote, who was appointed special envoy in July after the assassination of Moise, said he learned of the repatriations while watching the news and announced his resignation soon after.
“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life,” Foote wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Foote also said he and other observers opposed US support for Henry, who took over after the resignation of Claude Joseph, the acting prime minister at the time of Moise’s death.
“It became clear to me that the United States was just going to back Ariel Henry unless he died or something,” he told The Hill. “That they were just behind him and they had put all their chips behind him.”
“And so I was like, ‘You know what, I am not going to change this from the inside. Nobody’s listening. The only way — and probably even this won’t change it — but I can keep the dream alive. The only way I can keep alive is if I just go nuclear. You know, make the world see what’s going on,’” he continued.