Joe Biden’s Immigration Policy Crippled Haiti

2024-03-21 09:17:51

President Joe Biden’s rushed policies to address a burgeoning migration crisis three years ago helped collapse the Haitian state in 2024 amid his reelection campaign, Dan Foote, who served as Biden’s special envoy for Haiti in 2021, told Breitbart News.

“He wanted to get past the [2022] midterms …. [but] it unraveled now in the run-up to the [2024] elections at the worst time,” Foote told Breitbart News on March 18.

In 2021, more than 15,000 Haitian migrants approached the Del Rio river crossing in Texas, creating a TV-magnified political crisis for Biden. At the time, American officials were helping Haiti elect a new government to replace Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took on the role days before the assassination of the nation’s last president, Jovenel Moïse, that year. Henry did not want to quit, so he told Biden, “I’ll keep taking the deportees but you guys must let me stay in power,” Foote recalled.

Biden stopped pressuring Haiti to organize an election, letting Henry stay in power. In exchange, Henry signed the vital paperwork that allowed Biden to fly the Del Rio migrants back to Haiti, said Foote.

Before the deal, “We had a legitimate consensus political accord that I – as a career diplomat – contend would have worked” to rebuild Haiti’s shaky political system, Foote, a former official at the Department of State and a former U.S. ambassador, said.

Foote told the Tennessee Star this week that he was excluded from the Biden-Henry deal:

When I saw the Del Rio encampment on the nightly news and they reported they’d all be deported, I went into work and I said, “Are you kidding me? You’re gonna deport these people back to Haiti? Don’t you think you should have informed the special envoy?”

“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti,” Foote wrote in a subsequent resignation letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Since the Biden deal canceled the planned elections, Haiti has slid further into chaos. This month, armed gangs that control the streets made it impossible for Henry, who had traveled to Kenya, to return home, leaving him stranded in Puerto Rico. He announced that he would resign following the appointment of a “transitional presidential council” but has yet to do so at press time.

The chaos threatens Biden’s legal ability to keep sending migrants back to Haiti during the 2024 campaign, Foote said.

Haiti’s neighboring country, the Dominican Republic (DR), has an alternative strategy. It has already fortified the border between the two countries and firmly deported many Haitians living illegally on the wrong side of the wall.

Many Haitian migrants are looking for an escape by sea to nearby Florida. That threatens Biden with a massive exodus of poor migrants during his reelection campaign.

Biden’s Cuba-born, pro-migration border chief, Alejandro Mayorkas, is preventing an exodus by intercepting migrant boats at sea and returning them to Haiti without letting them land and apply for asylum in United States courts.

The sea-return policy is the Biden-Henry deal still operating while a new government is being negotiated.

This return policy cannot stop all Haiti migration to other countries but may help prevent a replay of the Del Rio crisis on Florida’s beaches during the 2024 campaign.

Since 2021, pro-migration Mayorkas has welcomed roughly 400,000 Haitian migrants into America. Many of the migrants trekked up from South America, but roughly 150,000 of the Haitians have been given parole visas so they could fly to the United States. The parole migration is still happening.

Many of the migrants are middle-class people who are needed to stabilize a nation wracked by deep class divides between a few rich and many poor. Those migrants include many of the 1,600 police who have quit the nation’s security forces since early 2023, thus helping the nation’s armed gangs to establish their power in the streets of Haiti.

“For the future of Haiti, it [the Biden migration] is probably not the greatest thing in the world,” Foote said diplomatically.

Many Haitians recognize the brain-drain damage inflicted by the migration.

“How can a country rebuild itself if 80 percent of its educated young workforce are among those leaving the country?” Louis Marcelin, a Haitian-born social scientist, asked in a 2022 article for the Miami Herald. “A country cannot rebuild itself if it doesn’t have the human power, educated, skilled youth to help implement the kind of policy recommendations that will emerge.”

Roughly 84 percent of Haitians with higher education leave for opportunities in the United States, Canada, or other countries, Conor Bohan, founder of the Haitian Education and Leadership Program, told Newsweek in 2021. His program trains local leaders and entrepreneurs, but the “brain drain feeds on itself to the point where emigration equals success and success is defined by emigration,” Bohan told Newsweek. “It is impossible to make progress and rebuild the country if the educated classes keep fleeing.”

Even as Biden’s deputies accelerated the extraction of middle-class people from Haiti for use in the United States. economy, Biden’s deputies are now trying to rebuild a government in Haiti, Foote said. Once that new government begins operating, it will be able to use Haitian migrants to extract valuable concessions from the United States, he noted.

For example, Mexico, Venezuela, China, and Cuba mostly refuse to accept the return of many illegal migrants, including criminal migrants, caught in the United States. Foote said, “Haiti, if it has a government that somehow represents its people, is going to do exactly that and say, ‘Stop sending these people back here, we can’t deal with them —  unless we make some kind of deal.’ And the deal today has been with [deposed] Ariel Henry [saying] ‘I’ll keep taking the deportees back but you guys gotta let me stay in power.’

If there is no deal, “you’re stuck with the [migrants],” he said. “That’s one reason I think [the Biden administration is] scrambling because they can’t do deals with anybody” until there is a replacement government.

To get that deal, “somebody’s gonna have to talk to the gangs,” said Foote, adding that the armed street groups are part of Haiti’s political system.

The gangs grew while serving as enforcers for Haiti’s wealthy families, he explained. “The [gangs] contracted with the elites and with the political class over the past five years … they’re been enforcers who work for the elite when it’s in their self-interest — they’re not run by the elite. These guys are independent characters … [and] they’re way stronger than anybody else. So they’re independent contractors looking to hire out their muscle.”

“The rich people are feeling the pain” because they have lost control of the armed groups, he said.

The groups are “breaking into their containers and stealing everything from the port. They’re going up the [wealthy] hill, there’s gunfire a couple of blocks away, so it’s affecting even the bourgeoisie this year.”

The gangs have become semi-political armed groups, Foote said. “The leaders are talking about revolution and are seeking amnesty in this political conversation that’s going on, because I think they’re starting to see … they’re not going to be able to run rampant with impunity into perpetuity.”

The view was echoed by Judes Jonathas, a Haitian who has helped manage charity activities in Haiti:

The situation totally changed now, because the gangs are now working together … What is apparent is that the gangs are trying to capitalize on their control of Port-au-Prince, the capital, to become a legitimate political force in the negotiations being brokered by foreign governments including the United States, France and Caribbean nations.

Haiti needs a middle class to bridge the gap between the country’s wealthy elite and poor people, Foote noted. The U.S. goal should be to shift power “from the elites [who] are running it with impunity without a voice from down below, to give the middle class, the lower class, a voice, some voice. It doesn’t have to be the hugest voice — they’ve never had a voice,” he said.

The United States does not have “the power to impose a social contract between Haitian people and the kleptocrat guys,” Foote said. Haiti’s exported middle class in the United States has little political influence beyond serving as an example of possible relative prosperity, he explained.

“The people who are here now are not Haitians anymore to the Haitians because they bailed out … [and] if you’ve got a young kid, able to afford a house, and get a car, you’re not going back at any point.”

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