Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 29th 2013 Contents A50
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 29, 2013
In this July 15 file photo,
Haitians and Dominicans
gather at a market in the
border town of Dajabon in
the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic's
top court on Thursday,
September 26 stripped
thousands of people born
to illegal migrants, a
Haitians brought from
homeland to work on
farms. The decision cannot
be appealed, and it affects
all those born since 1929.
Experts warned Friday that a Dominican court
decision to strip citizenship from children of Haitian
migrants could cause a human rights crisis, poten-
tially leaving tens of thousands of people stateless,
facing mass deportation and discrimination.
Officials promised to create a path to Dominican
citizenship, but gave no details about how it would
work or who would be covered.
The ruling by the Constitutional Court is final and
gives the electoral commission one year to produce
a list of people to be excluded from citizenship.
The decision applies to those born after 1929---a
category that overwhelmingly includes descendants
of Haitians brought in to work on farms. It appears
to affect even their grandchildren, said Wade
McMullen, a New York-based attorney at the Robert
F Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.
A UN-backed study released this year estimated
that there are nearly 210,000 Dominican-born people
of Haitian descent and roughly another 34,000 born
to parents of another nationality.
Many of those "are now effectively stateless,"
McMullen said. "We really don t know what s going
to happen to those people...Based on what the
Dominican government is saying, these people are
not Dominican citizens and will have to leave and
effectively go to Haiti, where they are also not citizens.
It creates an extremely complicated situation."
The majority of them don t have Haitian citizenship,
have little or no ties to Haiti and likely don t speak
Creole, he said. Getting Haitian citizenship can be
complicated too because it is difficult to comply with
requirements to prove descent from a Haitian national.
Roberto Rosario, president of the electoral commission,
insisted that the government is not denying anyone
the right to a nationality, saying people would be
able "to legalize themselves through the national
However, that plan has not yet been created, despite
a 2004 immigration law that called for it, and it was
not clear who would be covered.
Once the plan is created and the electoral com-
mission turns in its list, it will take no more than
two years for legalization, said Immigration Director
Jose Ricardo Taveras, member of a nationalist party
that has long complained about the "Haitianization"
of the Dominican Republic.
"Far from remaining in limbo like some critics are
arguing, (they) will for the first time benefit from a
defined status and identity without having to violate
the law," he said.
Meanwhile, the military announced that it had
deported 47,700 Haitians caught entering the country
in the past year, more than double the nearly 21,000
deported in the previous year.
Ira Kurzban, a Miami-based civil rights and immi-
gration lawyer, said the court s decision "may lead
to mass deportation. It will certainly lead to mass
discrimination," he said. "They re just going to start
rounding up Haitians."
The Dominican government is currently analyzing
the birth certificates of more than 16,000 people,
while electoral authorities have refused to issue
identity documents to 40,000 people of Haitian
"To all of a sudden be told no, you re not Domini-
can, it s very frustrating," said Elmo Bida Joseph, a
21-year-old student who said he was denied his ID
and a copy of his birth certificate because he was
born to Haitian migrants.
"All my dreams have been broken," said Bida, a
baseball player who needed those documents to enroll
in a baseball academy. Now he worries he ll be deport-
ed. "I feel that s around the corner. That in any
moment I ll be detained and they ll send me to Haiti,"
he said. (AP)
Thousands may be
left stateless as
DR strips Haitians
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