SANTO DOMINGO – Outrage is growing over the Dominican Republic’s move to deport hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants and Haitians born in that Spanish-speaking country, with warnings that it will lead to a humanitarian crisis and calls for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to advocate on behalf of those affected by the policy.
St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says refusing citizenship to people in the Dominican Republic and subjecting them to deportation is a “stain” on Caribbean civilization.
“What is happening in the Dominican Republic is simply unacceptable,” he said. “It is unacceptable to have a public policy in relation to citizenship, grounded in ethnicity or your national origins.”
Gonsalves made the comments to the media in St Vincent on his return from the EU–CELAC Summit in Brussels where the matter was discussed.
Up until 2010, anyone born on Dominican Republic soil was automatically given citizenship, but a change to the constitution has denied citizenship to children born of undocumented parents. Then, in September 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal handed down a ruling denying citizenship to anyone born in the country since 1929, if his or her parents had been “in transit”, affecting not only short-term visitors but long-term, undocumented workers as well.
The government recently launched a programme offering legal residency to Haitians born in the Dominican Republic but the deadline for applications ended last week with thousands still unable to register.
Dominican Republic extends residency deadline ahead of mass deportation
In Trinidad, one of the opposition parties, Congress of the People (COP), issued a statement condemning the Dominican Republic’s stance.
“The mass deportation of persons who have lived, worked and owned property in that country of their birth not only deprives them of their rights, but, will also worsen the humanitarian situation in Haiti,” COP leader Prakash Ramadhar said.
“We must all do our part to maintain the pressure on the government of the Dominican Republic to permanently halt the threatened deportation. As a Caribbean nation, we must join with our CARICOM and international neighbours to demand that Dominican Republic government take all political, legislative and other measures to restore the citizenship rights of these Dominicans.”
Ramadhar added: “We have written to the Caricom Secretariat calling on them to take all steps necessary in concert with the United Nations and other international human rights bodies and all governments to continue the strongest measures to force the government of the Dominican Republic to meet its obligations to respect the rights of its citizens and right this terrible wrong.”