Dominican court ends citizenship of some residents
By Ezequiel Abiu Lopez,And Danica Coto, APSANTO DOMINGO--Thousands of Dominican Republic residents have been thrown into limbo by a ruling from the country's highest court that strips citizenship from anyone born to migrants who entered illegally. The decree affects mainly people of Haitian descent and is likely to worsen already acrimonious relations with neighboring Haiti.
September 28, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Advocacy groups for immigrants expressed anger over Thursday's ruling, saying it ignored the rights of those affected and was based on bigotry against predominantly black Haitians.
“This is outrageous,” said Ana Maria Belique, spokeswoman for a nonprofit group that has fought for the rights of children born in the Dominican Republic to migrants, such as herself. “It's an injustice based on prejudice and xenophobia.”
The Constitutional Court's decision cannot be appealed, and it covers those born since 1929 — a category that overwhelmingly includes Haitians brought in to work on farms and their descendants.
David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, said the decision was part of a larger effort to keep Haitians from entering the Dominican Republic and to encourage self-deportation of those already here.
He cited the racial differences between the predominantly black Haitians and mixed-race Dominicans as well as Haiti's plight as one of the world's poorest countries.
“The fear of the Dominican Republic, of being pulled down to the level of Haiti economically and the `blackening' of the country, has been an obsession of Dominican politicians for well over a century,” he said.
Spanish-speaking Dominicans and Creole-speaking Haitians share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and have a long history of troubles, including wars and massacres. Relations warmed after Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people, but tensions have since resumed.
The office of Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe declined to comment about the ruling.
Edwin Paraison, a former Haitian Cabinet minister who has been working to improve relations between the two nations, criticized the court and warned that the ruling could hurt Dominicans. “The sentence expresses a rejection of the Haitian diaspora while setting a dangerous precedent that can be reproduced, if appropriate action isn't taken, against other immigrant communities, including Dominicans, in several countries worldwide,” he said in an email.