Local Latino Leaders Condemn Forced Deportations of Haitian-Dominicans
This past June 16, the Dominican Republic’s head immigration agency began a new stage of the “Regularization Plan”. Law 169-14 seeks to denationalize hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent and deport more than 200, 000 Haitian workers who lack residency. The “Regularization Plan” has its roots in a previous court order.
In September 2013, the Dominican constitutional court ruled that people born to undocumented migrants do not have a right to citizenship – even if they were born and lived in the country all of their lives. The court then ordered a review of the Dominican Republic’s birth records and civil registry, starting from June 1929, to assess who can qualify for citizenship.
The court ruling is the latest in a series of legislation stripping Dominicans of Haitian descent of their Dominican citizenship. Acts to further legitimize the disenfranchisement include categorizing Haitians and their children as “foreigners in transit” and denying them certified copies of their birth certificates – necessary for the recently implemented “Regularization Plan”.
The current immigration policies enforced by officials in the Dominican Republic are a legacy of racism towards the Haitians for their perceived “blackness” and different surnames and names highlighted by the 1937 Parsley Massacre where President Trujillo ordered the murder of thousands of Haitians on their shared border.Local Latino leaders, including leaders of Dominican heritage, are outraged by the acts of the Dominican government and call for a reversal of these policies. Below are statements from local leaders condemning these acts:
“I appreciate the need to have a system where immigrants can have a fair chance at visiting, migrating, and/or working, regardless of what country we are talking about. But we have to be careful at how we enforce laws, and in the case of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, nothing good can come from a country-wide exodus forced onto the Haitian people. Mass exoduses and deportations, no matter how legal, have historically been associated with abuse of human rights in the past. We must remember that among all the legality and paper work, we are humans as well.” Will Campos, Prince George’s Delegate District 47A. Salvadoran-American.
“Having just returned from the celebration of Monsignor Oscar Romero’s beatification, a leader who died fighting for peace and unity, I say with enormous sadness that this move by the Dominican government is an enormous step backwards for Latin America. Only through coming together will the region resolve its critical challenges of poverty and underdevelopment.” Ana Sol Gutierrez, Montgomery County Delegate District 18. Salvadoran-American.
“It is no secret within the international community that the Dominican Constitutional Court’s 2013 ruling revoking the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent was not only in violation of international law (right to nationality, right to equal protection, rights against statelessness) but against the Dominican Republic’s 2010 Constitution (the DR just ratified a brand new Constitution as of June 13, 2015) and immigration law. The requirement that those affected by this law prove that at least one parent was born on Dominican soil in order to acquire recognition by the Dominican government, is both arbitrary and in violation of the DR’s own jus solis standard for citizenship. The recent efforts by the Dominican government to raid and deport Dominicans of Haitian descent has no other explanation but one motivated by discrimination and prejudice. As citizens of a country that has hosted our immigrant relatives, we frown upon the actions by the Dominican judicial, legislative, and executive branches against Dominicans of Haitian descent. We stand with them as they plea for recognition as Dominican citizens that deserve all the rights conveyed in the Dominican Constitution of 2010. Maricé Morales, Delegate representing Montgomery County’s 19th District. Peruvian-American.
“I note with sadness and disappointment the treatment of Dominicans of Haitian descent by the government of the Dominican Republic, which is preparing detention centers to gather and deport Dominican-Haitians. Dominicans have a complex racial and cultural past and, it is said, are all “black behind the ears.” I call on the Dominican government to reverse course and protect the civil rights of Dominican-Haitians. As the American civil rights movement has taught us, hatred and discrimination are not the path to national unity and strength.” Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Chair of the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus, Delegate representing Prince George’s and Anne Arundel’s 21st District. Dominican-American.
“Ethnic cleansing has no place in any society. We stand firmly in solidarity with our Dominican-Haitian brothers and sisters who have endured so much, and have made extraordinary contributions to their country. The Dominican government must stop all deportations immediately, and provide recognition to its citizens of Haitian descent.” Nancy Navarro, Montgomery County Councilwoman District 5. Venezuelan-American.
“We reject the wholesale abandonment of human rights in the Dominican Republic. In the same way that I and my colleagues have battled for the rights of undocumented Dominicans in the United States, we call on the Dominican government to stop the deportations of Haitian-Dominicans.” Victor Ramirez, Prince George’s Senator, District 47. Salvadoran-American.
“The 2012 court ruling and government plan are affronts to human decency and sanctioned social cleansing. Immigrant leaders in the United States, both Haitian and Dominican, have denounced the expulsion threat, and I am hopeful that officials in Santo Domingo will recognize that Dominicans – regardless of their heritage – have the right to statehood and humane treatment under the law.” Deni Taveras, Prince George’s Councilwoman District 2. Dominican-American.
“CASA repudiates and condemns that through false nationalism, the most elemental human rights of Haitian immigrants are violated. To migrate is a human right, something we know very well in the United States where each year hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters come seeking a better life. We demand that Dominican nationality be recognized for Dominicans of Haitian heritage and Haitian migrants and that their human and labor rights be respected.” Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA. Colombian-American.