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Deportees from Dominican Republic land on Haiti border

FORD BAYARD, Haiti– The children hunched over on a cement floor stare at flies on a dirty bed, living in squalor without books or toys, as refugees in this border town. They are unwanted by the Dominican Republic, their country of birth, and without a home in Haiti, their country of heritage.

Their Haitian parents claim the children, deported alongside adults, are citizens of the Dominican Republic – born and raised there – but they can’t prove it. The families have no birth certificates or naturalization papers. A local school, out for the summer, lets them sleep in their empty classrooms. They are uncertain how they will survive.

Francois Severin has lived among these stateless, homeless people at the school since June when he says he was deported with his pregnant wife and four children from their home in Neiba, Dominican Republic.

The family’s problems began with a 2013 the Dominican Supreme Court ruling that said people born in the country between 1929 and 2010 to non-citizen parents did not qualify as Dominican citizens. While the government said it would give long-term residents a path to citizenship, the decision effectively stripped tens of thousands of people of their nationality retroactively and prompted human rights activists to accuse the government of making people stateless.

Severin moved to the Dominican Republic from Haiti some two decades ago at age 7. His wife, Loulouse Nacius, 30, immigrated from Haiti at age 8. The couple said all four of their children were born in the Dominican Republic, and they have hospital records to prove it. But Dominican immigration guards snatched them off a street as the family walked home after an appointment with a doctor. The guards wouldn’t let them return home to get the records.

“No matter if you are a child or a senior, the immigration guards in the Dominican Republic are free to do anything they want to Haitians,” Severin said. “The guards told me if I returned again they would kill me, because they are tired of Haitians.”

For decades, scores of Haitians, fleeing poverty, migrated east to the neighboring Dominican Republic in search of better lives and job opportunities. As the population mixed, they intermarried, worked together and become beloved neighbors. Now, a move by the Dominican Republic to enforce the immigration law threatens to shred those bonds.

Activists across the world say the Dominican Republic is violating international human rights standards and acting out of racism. Dominican officials deny racist motivation. They say they demand documentation simply to ensure the population is legally entitled to live in the country.

Most of the people affected by the changes in the law were born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents. Those residents who didn’t have the proper paperwork had until June 17 to establish their identity and prove they arrived before October 2011. Dominican officials said they would not begin deportations before August and the officials insisted in July that they had not deported anyone in connection with the new immigration crackdown.

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August 24, 2015

Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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