Haitians and Dominicans rally over immigration

Immigratation and US flagThe controversy surrounding the deportation of Haitians by the Dominican Republic spilled over into the United States last week, with two groups staging simultaneous protests in the city of Miami. Undocumented immigrants, most of whom came from Haiti, have been given until June 17th next year to register with the authorities or potentially face deportation.

Tens of thousands of people have already left, many of whom were born in the Dominican Republic but are of Haitian heritage. Around 50 people rallied in front of Miami’s Dominican consulate last Wednesday, holding Dominican flags and banners demanding ‘Respect our constitution’ in a bid to defend the immigration laws of their nation and reject the lies about the mistreatment of immigrants arriving from Port-au-Prince.  On the other side of the street were 20 more demonstrators, who shouted slogans such as ‘We are one’ and ‘Down with racism’ and denounced the deportations as a violation of human rights. The immigration crisis is the result of a court ruling in the Dominican Republican two years ago that children born in the country to undocumented foreign parents ‒ most of whom are Haitian ‒ do not hold Dominican citizenship, even if both their parents do. Over 250,000 people became stateless overnight.

Santo Domingo created a process to enable 50,000 such immigrants to remain as a result of international pressure; however, most had not been able to conclude the process by the deadline.This situation is “a grave injustice” according to Miami-based Haitian activist Marleine Bastien. “It is time that the world stands up and says no to the Dominican Republic, no to the ethnic cleansing,” she stated.