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Dominican Deadline: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Haitians May Face Deportation

Dieu Nalio Chery

Haitians living in the Dominican Republic face an urgent deadline Wednesday night if they want to stay in that country. But the Dominican Republic faces renewed international criticism if it carries out mass deportations of Haitians.

The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti. And Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. So hundreds of thousands of Haitians have emigrated to – and were born in – the more economically stable Dominican Republic.

But two years ago the D.R. decided to ban birthright citizenship. And it made the new law remarkably retroactive: Anyone born in the country after 1929 would have their citizenship revoked if their parents were undocumented immigrants or non-Dominicans. That left half a million Haitian-Dominicans without a country.

Many called the measure a racist attempt to expel black Haitians. So last year the D.R. agreed to grant legal residency to those who could prove they arrived before October 2011.

The deadline is 7 p.m. Wednesday. Only a fraction of the 500,000 eligible have been able to acquire the necessary legal documents. The rest face deportation.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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