The former U.S. envoy to Haiti, who resigned last month in a scathing letter, told lawmakers Thursday that mass deportations are “not the answer” to a rise in migration from the Caribbean nation, given the extreme poverty and dangerous conditions there.
In a virtual briefing for members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Daniel L. Foote said Haiti “cannot support the people it has there right now,” and that “the last thing” the island nation needs is the return of “desperate people without anything to their names.”
Many of those deportees left Haiti years ago and no longer have family or resources upon their return, he said. He also stressed the grip that gangs have in Port-au-Prince, where he said American officials cannot walk the streets without armed guards.
“Deportation in the short-term is not going to make Haiti more stable. In fact, it’s going to make it worse,” Foote said.
“There’s no safety net. It’s just a recipe for human tragedy,” he added.
Foote also said the administration did not consult him before sending thousands of Haitian migrants back to the struggling nation, which is caught in the midst of political turmoil and the aftermath of a tropical storm.
“I guess this is my own naivety, because I’m not as important as I thought I was, but nobody asked me about the deportations,” he said. “I found out about it on the news, just like the rest of us.”
Foote’s remarks came just two weeks after he resigned as the U.S. special envoy for Haiti, a position the longtime State Department official had held since July, following the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse.
In a resignation letter published in various news outlets, Foote wrote he “will not be associated” with the Biden administration’s “inhumane, counterproductive decision” to deport thousands of migrants back to Haiti in response to their increasing numbers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
By Suzanne Monyak for ROLL CALL
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