Haiti native: Images of horseback Border Patrol agents’ treatment of Haitians ‘take us back to slavery’


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote has resigned in protest following the deportation of thousands of Haitians at the southern border.

Foote, who was appointed in July following the assassination of the Haitian president, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”

The world was stunned this week when harrowing images emerged showing U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents using horses in a menacing manner to approach Haitians who were crossing the Rio Grande to seek asylum in the United States.

Thousands of Haitians have been immediately deported under a Trump-era pandemic policy that allows for immediate deportations.

Haitians deported from the United States recover their belongings on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

The former diplomat called the Biden policy inhumane. A Norfolk woman from Haiti calls the policy racist.

“These people need to be fired, they need to be fired. I am heartbroken. I am offended,” said Yasmine Charles.

“Those images take us back to slavery and to me those people on those horses — I felt like I was looking at Derek Chauvin not on the neck of a man — but on a horse chasing after his property,” said Charles.

Charles told 10 On Your Side she can’t sleep at night as she watches how the country she served, as a member of the U.S. Navy, is handling migrants from her home country.

(Photo courtesy: Yasmine Charles)

“The other night, I was up questioning why I served in the military… Eight years I gave the U.S. Navy as a Haitian citizen,” she said.

Charles says historically, the United States has not treated any other immigrant population in the manner in which thousands of Haitians, many of whom lived in Central America, were treated upon arrival.

“What makes us Haitians any different because we are Black, because we are dark-skinned. Let’s just tell what it is,” said Charles.

Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Charles has contacted former Virginia governor and gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who she’s campaigned for, to call on the Biden administration to reverse the repatriation policy.

“I’m still waiting on a response. I know he’s campaigning and I know he’s busy. I’m confident he will be giving me a call this week,” said Charles.

Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday urged the Biden administration to halt deportation flights and they demanded accountability for the mistreatment of migrants by Border Patrol agents. The agents on horseback have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is under investigation.

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