Haitian Workers Facing Deportation by Dominican Republic
By admin June 18, 2015

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17DOMINICAN-superJumboHundreds of thousands of migrant workers are facing deportation from the Dominican Republic back to Haiti.  This marks the latest in a series of actions by the Dominican government against their Haitian neighbor, showing their long-troubled relationship.

Undocumented workers had until Wednesday to register their presence in the country, in order to potentially be allowed to stay. So far, 240,000 migrant workers born outside the Dominican Republic have started the registration process. However, there are approximately 524,000 foreign-born migrant workers in the country, 90% of whom are Haitian, leaving many at risk of deportation.

Human rights groups hoped the government would delay registration deadlines, since it proved difficult for many to produce the documents needed. Many Haitians have crossed the border for generations to the Dominican Republic to cut sugar cane, clean homes and babysit.  Haitians make up a large section of the labor force willing to take on jobs that Dominicans do not want.  They fulfill a vital part of the labor force, which means that deportation could cause production costs to rise.

There has always been racial tension between the neighbors, since the massacre of tens of thousands of Haitian laborers by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1937.  In 2013, tensions increased when a constitutional court decided to remove citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic as far back as 1929.  Many of those affected had lived their entire lives in the D.R. and did not consider themselves Haitian. This was considered essentially an ordered mass denationalization of about 200,000 Dominican-born children.  “The root cause is discrimination; it’s really a long-standing discrimination against those of Haitian descent. The Dominican Republic has not been able to establish a strong policy to combat it,” said Marselha Goncalves Mergerin, advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International.

Mr. Andrés Navarro Garcia, the Dominican minister of foreign relations, stated that those in the process of registration will not be deported. The Dominican government will handle cases individually and work with the Haitian government for an “orderly transfer of citizens.” However, he was clear that the Dominican Republic has a right to determine its own immigration policy without the interference of other states.  Those who have been registered are given a 45-day grace period to complete the process. A requirement is to have a signed work permit from an employer, which some may be reluctant to provide.

The international community has been silent regarding the deportations, including the United States.  Liliana Gamboa, who coordinates an anti-discrimination project for Open Society Foundations in the Dominican Republic stated,” [m]igrant deportation is something states don’t want to get into because they themselves want to continue to do such deportations. I don’t know how much pushback there can be from other states.”


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