News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 18, 2015: The possible forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of Haitians and several Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic is weighing heavily on the minds of many including New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, even as the country’s immigration agency on Wednesday laid out how the pending deportations will be conducted.
“I am extremely concerned about the potential forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people from the Dominican Republic, including many children,” Mayor De Blasio said Wednesday while calling on the DR government to respect basic rights guaranteed to all people.
While CARICOM staying silent so far on the issue and Haitian elected leaders say they are preparing for the influx, De Blasio, human rights groups and many Haitians and Caribbean nationals across the US continued to slam the DR government’s decision.
But the country’s immigration director, Major General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem, showed no signs of backing away from the pending deportations Wednesday.
In a statement from the department, he said the repatriations will be conducted Monday to Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., as part of the Migration Policy Action Plan of 2015-2016, prepared by President Danilo Medina.
“We have identified seven Reception Centers to be used for sorting and final evaluation of each particular case. These centers are in the National District (Vacacional Haina), Santiago Province, Benerito (La Altagracia Province), Pedernales, Jimaní, Elías Piña and Dajabón,” the statement added.
Dominican Foreign Minister Andres Navarro echoed the same sentiment insisting: “Those who do not have documentation will have to return to their country.”
The pending deportations relate to a law passed last year that requires all foreign-born workers to register with the DR government within a year or face deportation.
The DR government has said it is not ethnic cleansing but a move to get a grip on its migrant work force. It promised to open a path to naturalization for those who register. But the law followed a 2013 court ruling to strip the citizenship of children born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents.
Some 85 percent of all migrant workers in the DR are from Haiti. As of yesterday some 200,000 undocumented immigrants living in the Dominican Republic were reportedly registered to stay in the country, but many others did not meet the deadline of last evening blaming the slow process and lack of documentation.
In a statement, the State Department expressed concern over “the large numbers of eligible individuals who have yet to access the regularization and naturalization processes and have their claims adjudicated.
But Mayor De Blasio pointed out the laws now affect Dominicans of Haitian descent even though they were born on DR soil and cause inevitable mistakes, dangers and humiliation.
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that nationality is a basic right of all individuals. As the mayor of a proud city of immigrants, home of large Dominican and Haitian Diasporas, we stand by international human rights, and hope to see a compassionate and humane resolution to this alarming situation,” he added.
Human Rights Watch urged the Dominican Republic government to halt the expulsions of denationalized Dominicans even as Amnesty International said a delegation “is visiting the Dominican Republic until June 27th to monitor the processes of deportations.”
An international migration group is working with the Haitian government to facilitate the return on many nationals to Haiti even as Haitian government ministers met and announced that they had a ‘contingency plan’ for repatriating deportees.
Prime Minister Évans Paul stressed that the responsibility for receiving deportees couldn’t fall on the government alone: “This is a national responsibility, and that’s why we beg for solidarity.”
On social media, however, the decision by the DR government is stirring outrage and claims of racism in some quarter’s raises its head.
“If a white country was doing to a black country what #DR was doing to #Haiti, there would be outrage,” Haitian Times Publisher Gary Pierre Pierre tweeted Wednesday while Haitian roots US ambassador to South African Patrick Gaspard tweeted: “Piercing by Edwidge Danticat” as he shared the Haitian-born author’s piece on the crisis in the New Yorker.
In “Fear of Deportation in the Dominican Republic,” Danticat wrote: “Given how many Haitian immigrants and Dominicans with Haitian parents remain, without “regularization” in the Dominican Republic, one can easily imagine that the expulsions will number in the thousands.”
Jamaicans Marlon Hill and Chris Williams are also weighing in on the crisis.
Hill on Wednesday wrote a letter to US Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson of Florida and Rep. Carlos Curbelo urging them to use their Office, Committee, and/or Sub-Committees “to speak out firmly on this blatant injustice to humanity and to insist that Dominican President Danilo Medina respects international human rights by forgoing these deportations.”
Williams, of Whereitzat Magazine and the B.I.G Awards insisted the DR government’s decision is “the equivalent of a cleansing.”
“How could a country with people of brown skin think it’s okay to devalue the lives of those with darker skin?,” Williams asked.