Miami (AFP) – Controversy surrounding the Dominican Republic’s deportation of Haitians trickled into the United States on Wednesday as two groups staged parallel protests in Miami over the situation.
The Dominican Republic had given undocumented migrants, the vast majority of whom are Haitian, until June 17 to register with authorities or face deportation.
Among the tens of thousands who have left are many people of Haitian heritage born within the Dominican Republic.
Some 50 people holding Dominican flags and banners reading “Respect our constitution,” rallied in front of the Dominican consulate in Miami on Wednesday, in defense of the country’s immigration laws.
The protesters said they had gathered to reject Port-au-Prince’s “lies” regarding the alleged mistreatment of immigrants.
Across the street, some 20 demonstrators chanting slogans such as “Down with racism” and “We are one” denounced what they said was a violation of deportees’ human rights.
The migration crisis stems from a Dominican court ruling in 2013 that children born in the country of undocumented foreigners do not have Dominican citizenship.
Overnight more than 250,000 people — mostly those born of Haitian parents — became stateless.
Under international pressure, Santo Domingo established a process by which some 50,000 of those immigrants would be allowed to stay, but the majority have been unable to finish the process in time due to documents that are slow to arrive from Haiti and Dominican registration offices that are overwhelmed by crowds.
“The Dominican taxpayer demands that his president act in the same way as the United States and European Union in deporting illegals,” Joaquin Liriano, a member of a Florida coalition of Dominicans, told AFP.
Meanwhile, Marleine Bastien, an activist from Miami’s Haitian community called the situation “a grave injustice.”
“It is time that the world stands up and says no to the Dominican Republic, no to the ethnic cleansing,” she said.
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