News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Mon. Aug. 17, 2015: The Obama administration is finally weighing in on the Dominican Republic government’s decision to begin deportations of Haitians from the island with a call to President Danilo Medina “to avoid mass deportations.”
Speaking in D.C. on Friday, Mark C. Toner, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said while it is “the prerogative of the Dominican Republic to remove individuals from its territory who are present without authorization” the U.S. government hopes the Dominican Republic will avoid mass deportations and conduct any deportations in a transparent manner that respects the human rights of deportees.
His call came as New Yorkers rallied Friday at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn in protest of the Dominican Republic’s immigration changes.
Holding banners and signs, they chanted, “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”
“Families are being separated,” said Jennings Louis, of the Haitian American Caucus. “A lot of people of Haitian descent were born in the Dominican Republic. Some of them are in their teens, late 20s, early 30s, and they’re … being sent back to a country they don’t know.”
Toner, however, said the U.S. government remains deeply concerned that individuals with a right to citizenship or otherwise eligible to remain in the Dominican Republic may not have had sufficient time and means to access the processes to regulate and formalize their status and have their claims adjudicated.
He said it is imperative that the Dominican Republic effectively screen people potentially subject to deportation to determine if they are Dominican citizens, require international protection, or are eligible for naturalization or regularization.
“In all cases, the Dominican Republic should take measures adequate to prevent the risk of statelessness and the discriminatory confiscation of documents,” Toner said.
He added that “deportation procedures must adhere to clear, publicly available and verifiable protocols and procedures.”
“Dominican nationality and migration policies and practices should be consistent with Dominican law and the Dominican Republic’s international obligations and commitments,” said Toner while urging the Dominican Republic and Haiti to consult and collaborate with each other to develop effective processes and procedures for the safe and orderly return of migrants across their shared border.
The U.S. also urged the Government of the Dominican Republic to permit the observation of deportation proceedings by civil society groups and international organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, including at the borders.
Toner said the United States will continue to actively monitor developments in the Dominican Republic, and engage the Government of the Dominican Republic to ensure the protection of human rights, encourage social inclusion of all people, and work to prevent the arbitrary deprivation of nationality for legal citizens.