The migrant crisis at the U.S. southern border sparked a dramatic, diplomatic rebuke on Thursday as the U.S. special envoy to Haiti resigned in protest to what he called the “inhumane” treatment of thousands of Haitian refugees.
In a blistering letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, diplomat Daniel Foote said, quote, “I will not be associated with the United States' inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants."
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.
Many Haitians at the border see refuge in the U.S. as a way to help those back home.
“There is a crisis going on in our country. We shouldn't be deported because the people who is being deported are people who send food to their families, to their friends."
Foote said the Caribbean nation’s “collapsed state" was unable to support the infusion of returning migrants.
A U.S. State Department spokesman called his resignation “unfortunate” and said Foote has (quote) “mischaracterized circumstances.”
His departure follows growing pressure on the Biden administration 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.
Democrats had hoped for an end to deterrent measures brought in by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.
On the Mexican side of the river early on Thursday, close to 20 police patrol cars lined the bank, overlooking the area where hundreds of Haitian migrants in recent days have crossed back and forth.
Many said they were awoken at 6 a.m. by the cars driving through the camp and, fearful of being detained, chose to cross back to the U.S. side.
As many as 14,000 people gathered in the camp in Del Rio, Texas last week. Less than half remain due to expulsions and detentions - while others have left for Mexico to avoid being sent home.