Haitians not welcome in Dominican Republic

Posted Jun 20, 2015 by Abdul Kuddus
Thousands of black migrants and citizens of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic are facing arbitrary deportation, raising apprehensions of an impending human disaster. An estimated 500,000 undocumented people could face mass deportations.
Haitian sugar cane workers rally in front of the Haitian embassy  demanding passports needed to regu...
Haitian sugar cane workers rally in front of the Haitian embassy, demanding passports needed to regularize their migration status in the Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo, on June 1, 2015
Erika Santelices, AFP/File
In order to regulate the influx of migrants from neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic — a close ally of the United States — is pushing for the discriminatory deportation plan.
Citizens of Haitian descent residing in the Dominican Republic have been asked to conform to a registration process by June 17, 2015 or face deportation.
Human rights advocates consider the crisis close to ethnic cleansing. The act allows people of Haitian descent to be rounded up and forced to return to Haiti, where many of them have never lived.
Reportedly, a Supreme Court Ruling in 2013 questioned the citizenship rights of the people of Haitian descent, even those born in the Dominican Republic. The ruling caused an international uproar and as a compromise, President Danilo Medina’s government floated a registration plan for people of Haitian descent.
The Dominican government has set up a number of centers for Dominicans of Haitian descent to register their citizenship status and avoid being deported, but the process is reportedly discriminatory.
The Nation quoted Greg Granding, an activist working for the Haitian cause as saying:
“The targets for expulsion are descendants of Haitians who came to work in sugar plantations in the early 20th century yet never legalized their residency status. They are nearly all poor, street venders, peasants, domestic servants, laborers, mothers and fathers.”
Reportedly the Dominican government has set up seven deportation centers located at the Haiti-Dominican border, notably in the border cities of Dajabon, Independencia and Elias Pinas.
According to CBC News:
“The government of the Dominican Republic ruled that anyone who had arrived in the country after 1929 and was not born of at least one parent with Dominican blood would be retroactively stripped of their citizenship.”
Dominican Republic and Haiti occupy opposite ends of the island formerly known as Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea divided by language, history, and race. Diplomatic tussle continue because the Dominican Republic has carried out mass deportations of Haitian immigrants at various times. The Parsley Massacre of 1937 reportedly altered the relationship between the two countries and its effects can still be felt today.
Haiti suffers from political instability, dictatorships and natural disasters making it the poorest nation in the Americas. In contract, Dominican Republic is a major tourist destination, a reviving economy and a key ally of the United States. Haitians often migrate to Dominican Republic for jobs. In 2010, a large number of Haitians also crossed over after the devastating Haiti earthquake.
An online petition is seeking US intervention to stop the deportation. The petition called on the White House to influence the Dominican Republic government and stop the biased deportation of Haitian-born Dominicans.
Reports indicate that people of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic are discriminated as a second group — people who came to the country or brought by force to work in the sugarcane fields.
Over generations, politicians have continued to raise the alien issue to consolidate their political agendas. The deadline for registration comes amidst elections with President Danilo Medina betting on another presidential term.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized the discriminatory action as xenophobic toward Haitian-born Dominicans. The fear of mass deportations has raised little international attention or even condemnation from world leaders.
The deportations, which could begin sooner, have received a muted response from the United States and the rest of the world. The reason for the diplomatic silence refers to the troubled relationship many countries have with migrant workers who cross borders illegally seeking employment.