by JESSIE KARANGU
The Dominican Republic is under worldwide scrutiny at the moment after government officials have threatened to round up and deport anyone who is undocumented. The immigrants had until Wednesday night to sign up for a national registry and attain the appropriate paperwork giving them permission to stay or else they would be kicked out. It is believed this program is specifically targeting Haitians, who make up the majority of the Dominican Republic’s migrant population.
How many people are being affected by this?
Over 520,000 foreign-born migrant workers and their families, of which 90 percent are Haitian, are being affected by this new program and are required to sign up for the national registry. So far, only 240,000 people have started their registration process according to the New York Times.
Why are human rights groups irate about what is happening?
Many believe this law has been enacted with racial intentions. For many years, there has been strong discord between Haiti and the DR. In 2013, the DR passed a law that took away the citizenship of any Dominicans of Haitian descent. Although it was eventually overturned, a majority of these Haitian-Dominicans who were born through undocumented parents do not have official paperwork that shows their Dominican citizenship. Some are afraid that they will also be forced out of the country along with undocumented immigrants despite having every right to stay put.
The Washington Post points out that the disagreement between the two cultures dates back to 1937 when the DR’s dictator “targeted Haitians along with Dominicans who looked dark enough to be Haitian” in a bloody massacre.
World observers say that this law has the same kind of emotion behind it. They are afraid that this may continue to spark up anti-Haitian sentiments in the country and ignite even more disharmony among both sides.
How does the DR plan to deport undocumented immigrants?
Reuters says that the Dominican army has over 2,000 soldiers “ready to help coordinate the removal of people who fail to meet legal requirements to remain in the country.” There will also be buses throughout the country which will transport the undocumented immigrants to the Haitian border.
Why is the DR doing this now?
The Dominican Republic believes they have suffered from the terrible economic and living conditions which face Haiti on a daily basis. Even before the 2010 earthquake which ravaged the country, Haiti was ruled by a dictator who did not adequately use the country’s resources to help its people according to many economists. This forced many Haitians to immigrate to the DR and added more people to the DR’s population than what some government officials and DR natives prefer.
What is the United States’ reaction to this?
Because the United States is facing their own problems with migrant workers entering their borders illegally, experts tell the New York Times to expect the Obama administration to stay quiet on this issue.