130,000 Haitians face deportation from Dominican Republic

From June 2015 to May 2016, 106,000 Haitians were deported or left the Dominican Republic, according to the latest statistics from Amnesty International. In photo: A Haitian woman and her child on March 01, 2012 in San Pedro, Dominican Republic. Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jun 21, 2016, 01.55 AM (IST)
More than 130,000 people of Haitian origin living in the Dominican Republic risk deportation because it is nearly impossible for them to renew their temporary residency permits, a migrant aid group official said.

From June 2015 to May 2016, 106,000 Haitians were deported or left the Dominican Republic, according to the latest statistics from Amnesty International.

The Intentional Organization for Migration found that 1,516 unaccompanied minors were expelled from the Dominican Republic during that time, in violation of an agreement with Haiti in 1999.

A 2013 Dominican Republic court ruling said people born there to parents without legal residency would no longer be considered Dominican. Most are of Haitian origin.

The Dominican Republic began enforcing the policy last summer. Some of those deported had never lived in Haiti.

The decision has hurt ties between the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola.

For many Haitians, the treatment amounts to racism against black people by Dominicans, most of whom are lighter skinned and of mixed heritage.

More than 250,000 people - mostly those born to Haitian parents - became stateless under the court ruling.

A Dominican program allowed more than 130,000 people of Haitian origin to obtain a residency permit, but it is only valid for a year.

Those who aren't able to renew their permits by July 18 face deportation.

"The Dominican authorities did not want to solve this problem once and for all," said Lissaint Antoine of the Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Organization.

"The majority of these 130,000 people don't have the financial means or the documents that would allow them to renew their permits."

Migrant rights groups have denounced the specifics of the residency program.

"To qualify, people were asked to present proof of employment, but the residency permit doesn't give them the right to work," Antoine said.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, crippled by long-term political instability and a devastating quake in 2010.
(AFP)