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Under Intense Pressure, Dominican Republic Senate Approves Citizenship Bill

dominicanrepublic-citizenshipThe Senate in the Dominican Republic unanimously approved a bill providing a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of Dominican-born children of migrants.

Alejandro Pierre is known as the king of bachata in his neighborhood, on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. He loves the swaying hip movements of this uniquely Dominican dance.

Pierre was born in the Dominican Republic, as was his mother. But his father was born in neighboring Haiti, and his maternal grandfather emigrated decades ago to work in the sugar cane fields. Until this week, Pierre’s Haitian origins made him ineligible for Dominican citizenship.

A constitutional court ruling eight months ago rendered stateless an estimated 210,000 people like Pierre, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR). Governments and human rights organizations have decried the policy and warned that the ruling could have unforeseen economic consequences.

This week, after intense pressure, Congress passed a law that will regularize children of migrants who have birth certificates and allow descendants of migrants who never had papers to naturalize.

The law addresses an eight-month legal standoff. In September, the constitutional court legalized actions the Dominican authorities had been making for the past 15 years – arbitrarily and then systematically denying citizenship to descendants of Haitian immigrants.

The court ruled that the plaintiff, a woman born in the republic to Haitian parents, was not Dominican. It also ordered a scan of the civil registry to identify anyone else born to migrants since 1929. The court ruling, which cannot be appealed, sealed years of deprivations of papers and legal amendments to justify the country’s citizenship policies.

The government claimed it was simply addressing long-standing immigration issues and asserting its sovereignty to manage citizenship. “Birthright is not a reason to grant Dominican nationality,” said a staff member at the Central Electoral Board, which manages civil registration. He requested anonymity as he did not have permission to grant interviews.

But researchers have already noted the impact of the ruling. “The deliberate creation of a stateless underclass increases the already formidable risks of exploitation,” said a recent report by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. It warned that the ruling could worsen poverty among those affected because without an identity card people are relegated to informal jobs and have little bargaining power in relations with employers.

That was one of the main complaints the new law addresses. Advocates are cautiously optimistic and say that the next challenge will be the implementation process.

For the past six years, Pierre has been trying to secure a national ID card so he can work. The card is necessary for myriad bureaucratic tasks, including marriage, registering children, opening a bank account and entering public university.

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6 thoughts on “Under Intense Pressure, Dominican Republic Senate Approves Citizenship Bill

  1. Anonymous says:

    When other countries such as Brazil, the Bahamas and the U.S. deport Haitians no one says anything, there is no scandal yet when D.R. tries to implement policies or enforce policies already in place to protect it borders then we are racist and xenophobic against Haitians that does not seem very fair.

    The Dominican Republic is a poor country itself and up to 1960 both Haiti and the D.R had the same GDP. D.R. might be a little bit better off now but it is far from where it needs to be.

    Do your research before you blame D.R. for Haiti's problems.

    I firmly believe that Haiti's problem are do to their corrupt government, presence of NGO's in the country (which seem to never help at all), the U.S. invasion of Haiti, and the payments Haiti had to provide the French for it's recognition as an independent country.

    That being said I will never condone the mistreatment of Haitians in D.R. or anywhere, people should all be treated as human beings. But D.R. can not be blamed and fix the issues going in Haiti.

    D.R. has never invaded Haiti, they did not impose taxes on Haitians the way Haitians did to Dominicans. Please do not state that they invaded simply to unify the island because that is not true, it's not like they just came in wanting to hold hands and we said no( amongst other accusations Dominicans simply did not want to pay the taxes that were imposed on them by Haiti) Haiti sought to us D.R. in other to pay reparations imposed by the french for recognition of the newly independent country.

    There is an extreme issue of deforestation, poverty, corruption, overpopulation and cholera introduced by the U.N. on the Haitian side of the island a problem Dominicans can not fix.

    What a recipe for disaster

  2. Anonymous says:

    Blame CORRUPTION IN HAITI and WORLD LEADERS when it comes to Haiti
    D.R is a poor country it self
    Haiti did not liberate or try to just unify the island
    Do some research These issues are not just racial they are economic environment and historical
    D.R has responsibility to it's citizens
    The way the Haitian government should take care of it's citizens
    Last but not least it is an issue of over population Haiti is densely populated

  3. Anonymous says:

    Up until 1960 both countries had the same exact GDP but has happened in Haiti in the last 50 years or so has been like turning back the clock, and in the end D.R has fought to gain it's indepence from Haiti, Haiti did not just want to unify the island they wanted to impose heavy taxes on D.R. in order to pay for the reparations France placed on them and D.R. revolted rightfully. To unify the islands is like asking DR to take responsibility for the other countries that have destroyed and destabilized Haiti

    The UN introduced cholera that killed 8,000+ Haitians
    The U.S. occupied the area and destabilized the economy
    France made it pay heavily after it's revolution 150 million francs the equivalent of 21 billion today
    Haiti has more NGO's than any other country what are they doing in Haiti nothing nothing but distributing wealth amongst themselves

    Don't make D.R pay for Haiti's problems
    In the end the social fabric of the people also contribute to the country itself
    The Haitian government needs to be more responsible for it's people

    Haiti is the first proud black republic a product of a successful slave rebellion but the Mulatto elite run the country and live in an unjustifiable luxury with no regard for the masses of Haiti

  4. Anonymous says:

    These article and entire website is anti Dominican why don't you blame the real culprits of the current state of Haiti and admit that the U.N. the NGO's and the FRENCH and US government have left Haiti in Ruins DR owes nothing to Haiti Do your research

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ironically No one NO one does more for Haiti than DOMINICANS
    The D.R never invaded Haiti, The D.R. never imposed taxes on Haiti

    The real racism or campaign is against the D.R. not the other way around

    THE UN introduced cholera to Haiti
    France made Haiti Pay Reparations just to recognize it as an independent nation 150 million francs (21 billion today)
    The U.S. invaded/occupied the country and left it worse off than it already was

    We fought Spanish Rule and Haitian Occupation
    Do your research before you talk about the D.R.

    No other country in the world has over 10% of its population's worth in illegal Haitian immigrants, 80% of its agricultural and construction workers from Haiti, over 12% of hospital patients that are Haitian, and illegal Haitians attending their public schools. No other country spends MORE THAN IT CAN AFFORD with proportion to its GDP on direct and indirect aid to Haiti and Haitian nationals. To top it all off, over 80% of Dominicans are black or mullato (which in America means the same as black).

    SO… the Haitian-Dominican problem is a matter of ECONOMIC HARDSHIP being imposed in the DR (a poor state) to provide for Haiti. Before you judge Dominicans over a complex problem you know NOTHING about, answer this question: What have YOU done for Haiti? The International community should seek to strengthen Haiti's institutions so that it can stop being a failed state and provide basic human conditions for its citizens, so Haitians don't have to FLEE to the DR for relief from what are INHUMANE conditions. The DR cannot do this for Haiti, not because it does not want to, but because progress, just like failure, is a determination every country must take for itself. And most importantly, because the Dominican Republic's first responsibility is to its own impoverished citizens, who ALSO HAVE the right to live and to prosper in a land their ancestors fought hard to maintain.

  6. Anonymous says:

    YOU HAVE NO ARTICLES regarding the deportations of Haitians by the BAHAMAS by Brazil by the United States cubans are allowed to stay once they reach florida yet Haitians are repatriated to Haiti why the US know the dire circumstances in the country

    But DR is racist xenophobic and in denial because we know we can not accept 10+ million Haitians who are in dire poverty cause by NGO's the UN and world government that are supposedly in Haiti trying to HELP

    STOP blaming Haiti's problems on DR and if you are going to call DR racist for protecting its borders and deporting Haitians make sure you do the same for other countries staring with OBAMA's ADMINISTRATION

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