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Senior State Department Official Resigns in Protest, Calling the Deportation of Haitians “Illegal” and “Inhumane”

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Senior State Department Official Resigns in Protest, Calling the Deportation of Haitians “Illegal” and “Inhumane”

Washington, DC – Two recent resignations from the Biden administration were accompanied by powerful condemnations of the administration’s ongoing deportations of Haitians to a nation buckling under the strain of political violence, an earthquake’s devastation and climate-related disasters. To carry out the deportations, the administration continues to rely on a public health authority, Title 42. When asked to comment, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “My feeling has always been that focusing on immigrants, expelling them…is not the solution to an outbreak.”

See below for more.

Harold Koh, a longtime human rights lawyer who served as a senior advisor and political appointee at the State Department, resigned his post in protest over the deportation of Haitians under Title 42. Politico broke the story, and reported on the memo:

In a detailed legal memo dated October 2 and obtained by POLITICO, Harold Koh, a senior adviser and the sole political appointee on the State Department’s legal team, called the use of the public health authority known as Title 42 “illegal,” “inhumane” and “not worthy of this Administration that I so strongly support.”

“I believe this Administration’s current implementation of the Title 42 authority continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (“refouler”) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti,” the memo reads. He added that “lawful, more humane alternatives plainly exist.”

Anthony Fauci, White House science advisor, took aim at the public health justification for this administration’s continued reliance on Title 42. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Fauci said, 

“When you have 700,000 Americans dead and millions and millions and millions of Americans getting infected, you don’t want to look outside to the problem. The problem is within our own country. Certainly immigrants can get infected, but they’re not the driving force of this, let’s face reality here.”

When asked on CNN if he believed immigrants were a “major reason why Covid-19 is spreading” in the United States, as the majority of Republicans now believe, Dr. Fauci replied:

“Absolutely not … look[ing] at the data” shows ‘this is not driven by immigrants.’”

Daniel Foote, the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, resigned in late September, noting in a letter to Secretary of State Blinken:

“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 dangers posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The hawks in the Biden White House seem to have won out. As a result, a nation that used to hold itself up as the global leader on refugee protection is deporting Haitians to a country in no condition to receive them – with no meaningful due process. Top officials are resigning in protest, friends are sharply criticizing the administration’s policies, leading health officials are criticizing the rationale for maintaining Title 42, and no one – no one – is supporting the administration’s politicized response to this humanitarian challenge. 

Up until recently, we at America’s Voice were supportive of this administration’s efforts to stand up a fair, orderly and humane response to forced migration from Central America and Haiti. We now fear that the politics of responding to Foxlandia’s relentlessly racist narrative about a hyped ‘Biden border crisis’ – and the mainstream media’s amplification of this right-wing narrative – is more important to top White House officials than their commitment to reversing decades of cruel deterrence, border-centric myopia and deeply flawed assumptions about causes and solutions.

This administration came in talking about a ‘transformative vision.’ With their unconscionable deportations of Haitians and their determination to prop up the morally vacant Title 42, they have strayed far from that vision.