Amnesty International: Thousands at Risk of Expulsion from Dominican Republic

Sentilia Igsema, born in 1930 in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants, poses with four generations of her family in Batey La Higuera

Amnesty International said on Friday that tens of thousands of Dominican-born Haitians are at risk of being expelled from the Dominican Republic with the approach of a Feb. 1 deadline to apply for naturalization, The Latin American Herald Tribune reports.
The Dominican government launched last June a court-mandated National Plan to regularize the status of undocumented residents, most of them migrants from neighboring Haiti.
“When, the deadline expires at midnight, the hopes of tens of thousands of vulnerable people will collapse. Thousands of people will run the risk of being expelled from the country,” the director of AI’s Americas program, Erika Guevara Rosas, said in a statement released here.
And even if those people do manage to stay in the Dominican Republic beyond Feb. 1, their future will be “terribly uncertain,” she said.
“It is time to put an end to this crisis. The simple reality is that, when the vast majority of these people were born, the then-applicable Dominican law recognized them as citizens,” Guevara Rosas said. “The deprivation of that right, and the creation of insurmountable administrative obstacles to be able to remain in the country, constitute a violation of their human rights.”
Amnesty complained on Thursday about the deportation of 51 people from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, including 30 Dominican-born children and their mothers.
The Dominican deputy interior minister, Washington Gonzalez, told Efe Friday that a total of 6,937 people born in the country to undocumented-immigrant parents have applied for naturalization.
The deadline for applications will not be extended, he said.
In the past, the Dominican government cited unofficial estimates of around 1 million Haitians living in the country, most of them illegal immigrants working in agriculture and construction.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.
Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugarcane.
Haitians have been the target of mob violence in recent years and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants.

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