Wheels coming off: New Biden envoy to Haiti resigns over "inhumane" migrant expulsions

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Who can blame Daniel Foote? I wouldn’t want to be associated with this disgraceful State Department and Biden administration either, although I’d be a bit more inclined to leave over the “inhumane, counterproductive decision” to abandon Americans in Afghanistan. Joe Biden’s special envoy to Haiti chose to resign after only two months on the job over the Biden administration’s “inhumane” handling of Haitian immigrants instead.

The wheels of the bus fall off and off, off and off, off and off …

The Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti has resigned, protesting “inhumane” large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland 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. 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.

This may not be entirely about a policy disagreement. Foote suggests in his resignation letter that the State Department has been manipulating his communications to dishonestly portray his input, emphasis mine:

Foote wrote Secretary of State Antony 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,” he 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 Biden administration might be dishonest? The deuce you say!

Speaking of which, the State Department has already begun leaking a narrative that accuses Foote of empire-building:

A senior State Department official commenting on the resignation said Foote “sought a broader mandate and oversight responsibilities, which we did not think was appropriate or prudent at the time. He shortly thereafter submitted his resignation.”

This may have been an attempt to deflect Foote’s criticism of the Biden administration for playing kingmaker in Haiti:

“Last week, the U.S. and other embassies in Port-au-Prince issued another public statement of support by for the unelected, de facto Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry as interim leader of Haiti, and have continued to tout his political agreement over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society,” Foote said. “The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner— again— is impressive. This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results. More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the U.S. and our neighbors in the hemisphere.”

Who’s telling the truth? After the debacle in Afghanistan, I know which way I’d bet, but that’s beside the point here. Why did Biden appoint Foote in the first place if they weren’t on the same page when it comes to Haiti? Not only does Foote disapprove of their handling of Haitian migrants, he’s opposed to their overall Haiti policy, too. Didn’t the White House bother to ask Foote about that first? One has to wonder whether the “editing” of Foote’s reports, if true, was designed to cover up this incompetence.

The alternative is that Biden and Foote did agree … at the time. If that’s the case, then it appears that Biden’s mercurial and arbitrary decision-making quickly ran afoul of Foote’s mission, and Foote wasn’t going to wait long for Biden’s ad hoc strategy to make a 360.

Whatever the reason, Foote’s sudden, angry, and very public departure contributes even more to the perception that Biden is in waaaay over his head, both at home and abroad. With a sudden flush of media interest in the border crisis and the ongoing potential for massive hostage crises in Afghanistan, that corrosive perception of comprehensive incompetence can only grow in the days ahead.