The State Department on Thursday forcefully disputed the U.S. special envoy to Haiti’s assertion that his policy recommendations were ignored, after the official resigned over what he described as the Biden administration's “inhumane” decision to deport thousands Haitian refugees.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the department convened “multiple senior-level policy conversations on Haiti” where proposals led by Daniel Foote, the special envoy to Haiti whose resignation became public Thursday, were “fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process.”
“Some of those proposals were determined to be harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and were rejected during the policy process. For him to say his proposals were ignored is simply false,” Price said.
“I'm not going to parse the contents of his resignation letter, but I do want to emphasize that we have active policy debates in this administration on a number of issues,” Price continued. “The role of the President's cabinet and his advisors is to provide the President with the best advice possible. No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas.”
Price also accused Foote of failing “to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead."
In his resignation letter dated Sept. 22, Foote wrote to Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Obama to attend Glasgow climate summit Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE that he would not be associated with the United States’s “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 in control of daily life.” He also took issue with U.S. support for Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own,” Foote wrote.
Asked about Foote’s resignation later Thursday, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Buttigieg hits back after parental leave criticism: 'Really strange' Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE pointed to the State Department’s statement.
“Special Envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure. He never once did so,” she said.
The Biden administration has withstood growing criticism, including from many Democrats, over the handling of Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been deporting many migrants back to Haiti on flights from Texas. Some Democrats have urged Biden to halt the repatriations until after crises in Haiti subside.
Earlier this week, DHS launched an internal investigation after photos and video surfaced showing Customs and Border Protection agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants.
--Updated at 12:28 p.m.