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Dominican Republic Revokes Citizenship for Ethnic Haitians

First Posted: Oct 28, 2013 02:18 PM EDT
Hurricane Maria rips through Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, the Caribbean country also known as Quisqueya, has recently declared that the children of undocumented Haitian migrants are no longer entitled to Dominican citizenship -- enraging and affecting tens of thousands of people.

Haitian immigrants and their children's lives date back decades, and with this new ruling the descendants of Haitian immigrants won't be able to register for college or renew their passports because their birth certificates are no longer valid.

Santo Dominigo, DR will audit the birth records of Haitians from June 1929 until present day, to determine who qualifies for citizenship, a ruling demanded by the court and executed by authorities. That means that the 200,000 citizens who report to have Haitian parents, according to the last census, will be cast into an ethnic and nationality limbo, as many of these Haitians identify as Dominicans, as the Dominican Republic has been their home for the entirety of their lives.

The New York Times made mention of a 27-year-old woman by the name of Ana Maria Belique, who is DR-born Haitian. She stated, "I am Dominican, I don't know Haiti. I don't have family or friends there. This is my home."

Once upon a time, those born on Dominican soil were granted citizenship. Even so, Haitian descendants often complained about discriminatory practices; and in recent decades, the children of migrants were excluded from recognition, and their parents were labeled as "in transit."

Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the neighboring countries who share one island, have a tumultuous history, which involves invasion, war, and enslavement. Haitians have historically been severely exploited, and made to clean homes and work the vast sugar plantations in the Dominican Republican. These people are often stateless and denied basic services -being that they were considered illegal. Haitians sought/seek a life in the Dominican Republic for access to medical facilities, and job opportunities, even if labor intensive.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees ensures that this decision will deprive thousands of their nationality, and the DR-born Haitian population will be "being plunged into a constitutional, legal and administrative vacuum."

What's being called one of the "more sweeping rulings in recent years," acts to ensure that Haitians remain in remote shantytown and never rise above menial low-wage jobs, if they are not driven out of the country all together.

Legal experts call this action a violation of legal principles, by "retroactively applying the standard of established." The archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicholas de Jesus Lopez Rodriquez, called the ruling just and said "international organizations don't rule here... No country, not the United States, no France, nobody. Here, we are in charge."

Several top officials in DR have met this week to determine how the ruling will be carryout, and the ruling cannot be appealed.

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