Threat of massive deportations of stateless people from the Dominican Republic

A massive flux of immigrants would cause enormous problems for Haiti, which is one of the most fragile nations in the world. Photo: Paul Jeffrey
A massive flux of immigrants would cause enormous problems for Haiti, which is one of the most fragile nations in the world. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

Recent changes in the constitution and immigration laws of the Dominican Republic have drastically changed the position of Dominican residents of Haitian descent. Now, according to estimates, as many as 250,000 people face possible deportation from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. These are people who have been born in the Dominican Republic and lived their entire lives there.

“Such mass deportation would undoubtedly prove too much for the Haitian government to handle in its current fragile state”, says Uluç Baslanti, the regional representative for Finn Church Aid in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Accurate information is hard to come by, but so far an estimated 17,000 people have left the Dominican Republic, some voluntarily, some deported, with around one thousand new people leaving every day.

FCA regional office in Haiti is monitoring the situation

The Haitian Civil Protection Department is currently conducting needs assessment on the situation, and the Finn Church Aid Regional Office in Haiti is monitoring the development of events.

“The conditions in the drought stricken border would easily lead to a humanitarian crisis, with poor sanitation and lack of water allowing diseases to spread among the children and the elderly.”

Traditionally, every child born in the Dominican Republic has had a right to Dominican citizenship, but a 2010 constitutional reform changed the right to citizenship to apply only to children with at least one registered Dominican parent.

This constitutional change only applied to those born after 2010. However, a ruling by the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court in 2013 applied the reformed law retroactively to 1929 leading to the state tracking down all such persons.

The Dominican government has called for those without official papers to enrol in the state’s ‘Regularisation Plan for Foreigners’ which would give them access to legal papers. This registration period ended on 17 June 2015, but with the poor implementation of the new law and the high cost of retrieving the necessary documents, more than 180,000 people were unable to register in time.

Further information:
Uluç Baslanti, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel. + 509 37 02 03 99 (Haiti)
Email: uluc.baslanti (at) kua.fi