United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and 14 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express their disappointment over the United States’ inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border and their summary deportations.
Democrats and many pro-immigration groups say efforts to expel thousands of Haitians without giving them a chance to seek asylum violates American principles.
The lawmakers are calling for the immediate appointment of a new Special Envoy for Haiti as the country reels from natural disaster, gang violence, COVID-19, and political crisis in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
Criticism has been fueled by images that went viral on social media showing Border Patrol agents on horseback whipping migrants.
The Biden administration’s last special envoy to Haiti resigned in protest of “inhumane” large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland as it is wracked by civil strife and natural disaster, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Daniel Foote was appointed to the position only in July, following the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise.
Even before the migrant expulsions from the small Texas border town of Del Rio, the career diplomat was known to be deeply frustrated with what he considered a lack of urgency in Washington and a glacial pace on efforts to improve conditions in Haiti.
Foote told Blinken that he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”
“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. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”
The lawmakers also urged the Biden administration to step up efforts with partners throughout the Western Hemisphere to find solutions that place the protection needs of migrants and the long-term stability of Haiti at the core of the United States’ approach.
“Over the course of our lifetimes, our Haitian brothers and sisters have endured dictatorships, constitutional crises, food insecurity, pandemics, natural disasters, forced displacement, the assassination of their President, and the criminal takeover of their communities,” the senators wrote.
“Their resilience is unparalleled and our communities in the United States have flourished as a result of the presence of Haitian immigrants and their American children,” the senators wrote, calling for both the establishment of a reintegration program for returnees and international collaboration to secure access to protection, assistance, and information about rights for Haitians living abroad.
“Ensuring the integrity of U.S. borders is of utmost importance, and is not incompatible with the fundamental duty to respect the dignity, humanity, and rights of all individuals seeking entry to the United States,” the senators wrote.
Among those signing the letter were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).