A second official within the Biden administration has resigned amid controversy over the handling of Haitian migrants flooding to the southern border.
Harold Koh, the only political appointee on the State Department’s legal team and a former longtime advisor to President Barack Obama’s State Department, announced he was resigning and panned the Biden administration in a memo circulated on Oct. 2. In the memo, obtained by Politico, Koh decries the Biden team’s use of Title 42 to expel Haitian migrants from the United States as “illegal” and “inhumane.”
Top Biden State adviser Harold Koh — who was also in the Obama State Dept — quits in protest of Biden’s deportation policies, rips Biden’s use of Trump-era Title 42https://t.co/X4eFbiVQ7i
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 4, 2021
Title 42 is a public health provision allowing the government to prevent the introduction of new individuals in the U.S. during a public health crisis. The law was first used under the Trump administration to expel tens of thousands of migrants at the southern border, and the order has since been extended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Biden administration.
Koh described the use of Title 42 as “not worthy of this Administration that I so strongly support,” Politico reported. “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.”
“Lawful, more humane alternatives plainly exist,” the State Department advisor continued. “[O]ur actions and approaches regarding Afghan refugees stand in stark contrast to the continuing use of Title 42 to rebuff the pleas of thousands of Haitians and myriad others arriving at the Southern Border who are fleeing violence, persecution, or torture.”
Koh was previously a State Department legal advisor during the Obama administration from 2009-2013. Koh is leaving the Biden team to accept a job at Oxford University, and his departure has been long-planned, an administration official told Politico. (RELATED: Panama Official Warned Biden Admin Months Before Haitian Migrant Surge)
He is the second official to leave the Biden team and blast its handling of the southern border on their way out. Ambassador Daniel Foote, the Biden administration’s former special envoy for Haiti, resigned in September over what he called the “inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the Title 42 policy during Monday’s press briefing, saying that the administration views the provision as a public health tool, not an immigration one: “We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and it is determined by the CDC. It is also true that there are several exceptions for Title 42, including those who are fleeing persecution, who express a concern of fear … those who have health issues.”
“Those are individuals who go through our immigration proceedings and process,” she continued. “So it remains in place because we are in the middle of a pandemic.”