Shameful statelessness in the Dominican Republic

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An editorial from the New York Daily News.

A country declares that members of a minority group that has lived in the state for generations are no longer citizens.

That country is the Dominican Republic — a U.S. friend and the ancestral home of 750,000 New Yorkers. The minority are people of Haitian descent who have seen their rights as Dominicans dissolve into thin air.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share a Caribbean island. The DR’s population of 10 million includes an estimated 210,000 children and grandchildren of Haitian immigrants.

They began a journey toward statelessness when Dominicans amended their constitution to decree that children born in the country to a foreigner would no longer be automatically granted citizenship. The move essentially mirrors Donald Trump’s call for ending birthright citizenship in the United States.

Two years ago, the top Dominican Republic court ruled that the exclusion applies not only to present and future infants, but to every Dominican born to someone who had been born in another country, back to 1929.

Ever since, Dominicans of Haitian descent have existed in a nightmare limbo, unable to provide the papers necessary to get a passport, go to school or even obtain a cellphone.

Some have been escorted across the border to Haiti — a place they may never have been, with a language many of them don’t speak.

President Danilo Medina has kept the U.S. at bay with a recent law intended to give a pathway to citizenship to some born on his soil to foreign parents after they register with the government .

Um, when? Medina’s government, say human rights observers, has shown no rush to recognize the dispossessed or their documents. That should be a red alert for a certain very large and powerful neighbor whose tourism and factories power the Dominican economy.

The U.S. must press for allowing anyone born in the Dominican Republic to stay, with the full encouragement of New York’s congressional delegation — including the so-far silent Charlie Rangel, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Some New York elected officials who have stood up for the Dominican government — hello, Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez — should join the pursuit of a humane solution.

Mayor de Blasio showed courage in pressing the citizenship issue but reached too far in decrying “a racist act by the Dominican government . . . happening because these people are black.”

Much of the Dominican Republic is black. It’s happening because that nation’s leaders are dangerously indulging a popular view that holds Haitians, a small minority, responsible for crime and unemployment.

Demagoguery has taken hold in a not-so-distant land, at great human toll. Voices should be raised against it.

For the original report go to

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