The Dominican Republic has given notice to hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, mainly Haitian residents, ordering them to leave or face deportation. June 17 was the last day for the migrants to register with the government, which is supposed to give them amnesty from deportation.
Reports from the Dominican Republic are telling how some people are being deported regardless of their registration status, sometimes because they didn’t have their documentation on their person. Others tell of deportations of migrants who have lived in the Dominican Republic for decades.
The government claims that it is only trying to get a handle on what it calls a problem of out-of-control undocumented immigration and that naturalization will be offered to those who register. According to the government, this treatment is far more generous than is given to undocumented migrants in the United States.
While the United States may not be the most humane country towards undocumented migrants, it’s not retroactively stripping citizenship from people, as has happened in the Dominican Republic.
Since 2004, a number of Dominican Republic court rulings have eliminated the concept of birthright citizenship. A 2013 court ruling applied the new standard retroactively, stripping thousands of people born in the Dominican Republic of their citizenship. That court ruling will leave some 60,000 children stateless, according to World Vision.
It’s not only children born to foreign parents who fear deportation in the Dominican Republic. Some children born to Dominican Republic parents in the country but who do not have documentation also fear deportation.
Observers, including international human-rights activists, have likened the deportations to ethnic cleansing, or at least racial discrimination against the Haitian migrants, who are generally darker-skinned than people in the Dominican Republic.
While some cases of deportation in the Dominican Republic have taken place, mass round ups have yet to happen, and, given international pressure, may be put off. But, for those who are threatened with deportation, precautions are being taken. Sightings of Haitian fruit sellers usually common in the streets of Santo Domingo are reported to have dwindled, with many of them gone into hiding.
Estimates of the number of foreign workers in the Dominican Republic vary, but a 2012 government survey found about 500,000. It is estimated that 85% of them are Haitian.