The Dominican diaspora is responding to the news that the Dominican Republic (DR) is deporting Haitians born in the DR by protesting against the measure. In 2013, the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic summarily “stripped” Dominicans born to Haitian parents of citizenship rights. Some argue that the court was reinforcing a law already on the books, while others argued that if they had spent their entire lives in the DR, how are they still considered Haitian? Now, the government is preparing to deport those without proper documentation to Haiti. Many are now eligible for detainment and deportation, and the Dominican government has been conducting “sweeps” to identify those who will be deported, mainly by skin color and physical features. The Dominican Republic is not the only country with human rights abuses against Haitian migrants.
On January 30, 2015, In an article entitled, “Immigration Rules in Bahamas Sweep Up Haitians,” Frances Robles of the New York Times reported on a new immigration policy in the Bahamas requiring everyone to hold a passport, a rule that human rights groups say unfairly targets people of Haitian descent. They discussed the case of Kenson Timothee, who was born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents, who were there illegally. Robles writes:
“Mr. Timothee, who was born in the Bahamas to illegal Haitian immigrants, wound up jailed in immigration detention for six weeks. He is one of hundreds of people swept up in a fiercely debated new immigration policy in the Bahamas requiring everyone to hold a passport, a rule that human rights groups say unfairly targets people of Haitian descent.
Mr. Timothee had proof that he was born in the Bahamas, but because he had trouble obtaining his absentee father’s birth certificate, his application for Bahamian citizenship was never completed.
‘I showed them that I had applied for citizenship, but they said that wasn’t good enough; as far as they are concerned, you are not Bahamian, you are Haitian, and you need to get deported,”’Mr. Timothee said. ‘I don’t know anything about Haiti.’”
The policy went further by requiring student residency permits as a requirement for children to attend school. The permits are $125 and students without them, are pulled out of class and identified as eligible for deportation by Bahamian authorities. Even Bahamians with “Haitian sounding names” are being targeted.
In addition, the article highlighted other countries that also discriminated against Haitians. Robles reports:
“In Turks and Caicos, a top immigration official vowed early in 2013 to hunt down and capture Haitians illegally in the country, promising to make their lives ‘unbearable.’ The country had already changed its immigration policies in 2012, making it harder for children of immigrants to obtain residency. Last year, Turks and Caicos said it would deploy drones to stop Haitian migration.
In Brazil, politicians considered closing a border with Peru last year to stem the tide of Haitians, and last month, Canada announced that it would resume deporting Haitians.”
While many are saying that racism is driving the desire to deport Haitians, authorities insist it is because the nation’s can no longer afford to absorb the number of Haitians seeking refuge in their countries.
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site, the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.