Magazine article Washington Report on the Hemisphere

Dominican Republic

Magazine article Washington Report on the Hemisphere

Dominican Republic

Article excerpt

Over the past month and a half, extensive tent cities have been constructed on the Dominican-Haitian border, a symptom of the abiding xenophobia toward Haitian immigrants that has characterized the island of Hispaniola for decades. Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul has deemed the situation at the border to be a "humanitarian crisis." The three major tent cities, which rely on the kindness of churches for their food and water and have been described as "miserable," are the result of the passing June 17 deadline for foreign workers to apply to stay in the Dominican Republic.

This deadline was created in the wake of a 2013 constitutional court ruling, which stripped citizenship from those born in the Dominican Republic that do not have at least one Dominican parent. The ruling, which essentially rendered 200,000 people stateless, has brought in its wake international condemnation. Despite the fact that Dominican President Danilo Medina's administration insists it is taking every effort to secure documentation and residency rights for hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent with its new immigration laws, the system in place is too costly and time consuming to be readily accessible for the average person living in the Dominican Republic. Only 8,000 have been able to enroll in the government's "naturalization plan," while others have attempted, with little success, to obtain a Haitian passport in order to stay in the country as a foreign worker.

Fears of a mass-deportation have caused the makeshift border camps to proliferate. Some have left the Dominican Republic voluntarily and congregated on the border, while others have fled the country due to harassment, intimidation, and racial discrimination. …

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