NYT LETTERS: Two Versions of a Dominican Tale


These two letters to the Editor on the immigration situation in the Dominican Republic appeared in The New York Times.

To the Editor:

Re “Dominicans of Haitian Descent Cast Into Legal Limbo by Court” (front page, Oct. 24):

Unlike the United States, the Dominican Republic does not grant citizenship to all those born within its jurisdiction. The Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling this year merely confirms previous court rulings and efforts by the authorities to improve compliance.

The Dominican Republic has a legitimate interest in regulating immigration and having clear rules for acquisition of citizenship. It should not be pressured by outside actors and other countries to implement measures contrary to its own Constitution and that would be unacceptable to most other nations facing similar immigration pressures.

The Dominican government is fully aware of the plight of the children of illegal Haitian migrants born in the country who lack identity documents. This does not, however, render them stateless. As your article says, Haiti’s Constitution bestows citizenship on any person born of Haitian parents anywhere in the world.

A key component of the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling was a mandate to provide people affected with temporary residence permits until a regularization plan is in place. These allow them to remain and work in the country.

Each case will be carefully examined and subject to judicial due process. Speculation about mass deportations that I have heard is therefore baseless.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti may have a fractious history. Recent events, including the solidarity shown by Dominican society after the earthquake of 2010, have shown, however, that for the most part the countries are looking to the future, engaged in the hard task of finding joint solutions to common challenges.

Ambassador of the Dominican Republic
Washington, Oct. 28, 2013

To the Editor:

For any who thought that there was a new Dominican Republic, a modern state leaving behind the abuse and racism of the past, the highest court in the country has taken a huge step backward with Ruling 0168-13.

According to this ruling, the Dominicans born to undocumented parents are to have their citizenship revoked. The ruling, retroactive to 1929, affects an estimated 200,000 Dominican people of Haitian descent, including many who have had no personal connection with Haiti for several generations.

Such appalling racism is a continuation of a history of constant abuse, including the infamous Dominican massacre, under the dictator Rafael Trujillo, of an estimated 20,000 Haitians in five days in October 1937.

One of the important lessons of the Holocaust is that the first step to genocide is to strip a people of their right to citizenship.

What will happen now to these 200,000 people — stateless with no other country to go to?

The ruling will make it challenging for them to study; to work in the formal sector of the economy; to get insurance; to pay into their pension fund; to get married legally; to open bank accounts; and even to leave the country that now rejects them if they cannot obtain or renew their passport. It is an instantly created underclass set up for abuse.

How should the world react? Haven’t we learned after Germany, the Balkans and South Africa that we cannot accept institutionalized racism?





New York, Oct. 29, 2013

The writers are authors. Mr. Díaz and Ms. Alvarez are Dominican-American, and Ms. Danticat is Haitian-American.

For the original report go to http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/01/opinion/two-versions-of-a-dominican-tale.html?src=recpb

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