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New Dominican Law, Viewed By Some As Racist, May Leave Thousands of Black People of Haitian Descent Stateless

DR protestA controversial Dominican Republican law that many decried as a racist move to expel people of Haitian descent from the country, went into effect this week, causing possibly over 100,000 people to wake up in the Dominican Republic on Monday and no longer be considered citizens of the country in which they were born.

These stateless Dominicans who are the descendants of Haitian immigrants were supposed to apply for migrant permits under the widely attacked 2014 law, the culmination in the minds of many of the long-standing effort by the Dominican Republic to deny basic rights to people whose parents were originally from the poorer and Blacker neighboring country with which the DR shares an island.

Amnesty International reported Dominican government figures indicating that just 5,345 people had applied to normalize their status by early January, out of the estimated 110,000 people eligible to apply.

“This could leave thousands at risk of possible expulsion from the country,” Erika Guevara Rosas, the America’s director of Amnesty, said in a press release. “The simple fact is that when the vast majority of these people were born, the Dominican law at the time recognized them as citizens. Stripping them of this right, and then creating impossible administrative hurdles to stay in the country, is a violation of their human rights.”

It’s not clear how and when the Dominican government would go about deporting people who have lived their entire lives in the DR, but the act itself surely would bring worldwide condemnation.

But even in the midst of attack from many quarters, the Dominican government has not backed down, with government officials, in addition to many Dominican intellectuals, saying the law was within their rights.

Dominican researcher Virgilio Rodriguez wrote on Al Jazeera that race was not the reason for the DR’s move. He cited statistics from an avowed anti-immigration group in the U.S., the U.S. Center for Immigration Studies, which claims 145 of the world’s 194 countries do not apportion citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants. 

The Dominican Republic in 2004 changed the law to deny birthright citizenship to the Dominican-born children of Haitian migrants. In 2010, that change was enshrined in a new Dominican constitution and was applied retroactively by a DR court ruling in 2013.

Last year, the Dominican legislature attempted to soften the law by allowing those who could provide proof of their birth in Dominican territory to undocumented parents to obtain a migratory permit and apply for naturalization after continuing to reside in the country for another two years.

But as the Open Society Foundation’s Justice Initiative pointed out in a press release, many people affected by the law would have trouble providing the documentation because “many Dominicans of Haitian descent, particularly those living in poverty, were either unable or actively prevented from registering births during the 1929-2007 period.”

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12 thoughts on “New Dominican Law, Viewed By Some As Racist, May Leave Thousands of Black People of Haitian Descent Stateless

  1. "100,000" you said? Wait, I thought it was about 200,000… wasn't that the number you wrote about a year ago when the "law" was announced? (or was it a court ruling? facts? what are those?). So are we to believe this 100,000 number now? Really people, what kind of "journalism" is that you are doing here?

  2. There are a little over 200,000 people who are of Haitian descent but were born in the Dominican Republic. The article says that 110,000 people were ELIGIBLE to apply for the permits. Dominicans of Haitian descent who were born after 2004 were not given birthright citizenship so I would draw the conclusion that those people would help account for the 90,000 plus people who are NOT ELIGIBLE to apply for the permits. In that 90,000 there may be also be people who are ineligible for other reasons. . I can't detect anything wrong with this "journalism". You simply weren't reading carefully enough or using deductive reasoning.

  3. Colette Watson Ms. Watson,

    Sorry I wasn’t clear enough, but as a Dominican living in the U.S. it’s frustrating when I keep finding all the lies that sources such as the Atlanta Black Star and others want to pass on as news. Let me show you what I’m talking about: Back in April of 2014, this site published the following article:

    http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/04/15/5-acts-of-self-hate-and-racism-in-the-dominican-republic/3/

    If you read it, they are claiming that “250,000 Dominicans” would have their citizenship “revoked”. Now, this article in which you an I are commenting claims that 100,000 lost their citizenship. You point out that 110,000 were eligible to apply for citizenship; Ok then, 250,000 – 110,000 = 140,000…that’s a lot of people…or is that a rounding error?

    Also, how come the Dominican Government is allowing them to regularize their situation? If you read what was being reported a year ago (or earlier, when the initial ruling by the Dominican Constitutional court was issue) you’ll find allegations that “hundreds of thousands” of “Dominicans of Haitian descent” were going to be expelled or worse. So what happened? How did we went from “expulsion” to “regularization”? Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to know?

    Can they explain the discrepancy or is that too much to ask? Why should I believe the number they quote now? Let me tell you something else: I’m very interested in this story, so much so that I even read the actual ruling that started this whole thing. If your curious, the ruling orders the Dominican Government to implement a program to allow people to regularize their situation if they find themselves at risk of becoming stateless to no fault of their own or who have lived for generations in the country. But that was never explained in all the “reporting” by the “journalist” who wrote about this case.

    I even contacted a few of them asking whey they got the 250,000 number they kept quoting; one journalist finally told me that they were using numbers provided by an NGO in the Dominican Republic that works with Haitian workers. By the way, the Dominican Republic does not have birthright citizenship since 1929, not 2004 as you stated. The ruling explains that, but since it was the government itself that allowed migrants workers from Haiti to settle in the country they had the responsibility to allow them to regularize their situation since they are no longer migrants or temporary workers.

  4. This is shameful law on the part of DR..Black folks trashing other Black folks on the same GD Island WTF!

  5. Is it a curse that black people should not be united and love themselves, the same among black africa, black carribbean, black american and black arab, anywhere u see black is always hatred.

  6. the people of the DR don't consider themselves black, but Latino.

  7. They are dummies if you ask me shameful. They don't consider themselves as black folks they trying to separate any time or connections with being black but they will find out trust me.

  8. Ms. Chapman, if I was in Las Vegas I will put all my money in that you've never been to the Dominican Republic. I'm from there, I grew up there and I can assure you that what you said is pure nonsense.

    We Dominicans don't have to call ourselves "black" because being black if part of our identity. You are probably too ignorant to know that the slave trade started in our island almost two centuries before there was a African slave in the colonies that became the U.S.

    Dominican Spanish has African words and phrases that are part of our vocabulary; the way we speak Spanish is influenced by African dialects. Our food, the way we practice catholicism and our music has deep African influences.

    Lastly 8 out of 10 Dominicans is black; in fact, when I speak on the phone with somebody from any other Latin American country or Spain and they don't know how I look, if I tell them that I'm Dominican they assume that I'm black.

    Is only in the U.S. and specially among African Americans that I heard this nonsense that we don't consider ourselves black. If you don't think that Dominicans are not black enough for your taste that is your freaking problem, not us. Do yourself a favor and do some research.

    This is a free country, you have a right to say whatever you like, even if its nonsense. But you'll look like an idiot doing so.

  9. u dominican are racist hope thy do the same thing in usa.

  10. LO Sosa says:

    Laeticia Gomez what are you basis for this accusation

    I don't think you have any idea of what you're talking about do some research and educate yourself.

  11. LO Sosa says:

    There is no hate for Haitian in DR. people have to understand the after the earthquake in 2010 a lot of refugees came to our country without documentation people that we don't know who they are there could even be criminals among them from the more than 400 prisoners the scape that day they Dominican Republic Government gave them almost a year and a half to get registered and their own government was charging them outrageous fees to get their Haitians birth certificate and documents is not the Dominican Republic fault that Haitians Government is so dysfunctional

    I don't understand how can they make this about skin color it doesn't have anything to do with the color of their skin BTY more than 80% Dominican are either black or dark skin.

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