Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

109 US law professors urge President Obama to lead on DR crisis

On July 14, 2015, over 100 professors and fellows from all over the United States sent a letter to President Obama demanding action on what’s happening in the Dominican Republic. They express concern at the racial motivations behind the 2013 Constitutional Court ruling that resulted in statelessness for thousands of Haitian-descent Dominicans, creating an analogy between that and their own status if the US were to implement similar laws. They urge the President not to leave these people powerless, but to use its influence to improve their situation.

Click HERE for the full text.


Miami, July 14, 2015

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

The undersigned law professors write to you to express our collective concern and request you to take action to stop the ongoing mass deportation of Dominicans of Haitian descent by the government of the Dominican Republic. As legal experts and concerned members of our society, we consider this a human rights emergency, and we call upon you to act on the impending threat to the lives of hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. The deportation policy of the Dominican Republic violates three interrelated and fundamental norms of international, human rights and Dominican Constitutional law. It is a renunciation of the principle of birthright citizenship; it threatens an entire class of people with the status of statelessness, claimed by neither the Dominican Republic nor Haiti; and it is implemented through a policy of racial profiling.

As is the case for most of us, the fact that we were born in this country allows us to possess certain rights–we are protected by our Constitution, and among other things, can vote, and certain liberties are not to be disregarded without due process. Sadly, that birthright is being denied in the Dominican Republic. Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors in that land recently learned that their rights as citizens vanished in large part because of the color of their skin. It is, for instance, as if someone arbitrarily determined that because our forefathers and mothers were brought here on slave ships, or perhaps because we are here because our ancestors were invited by a lax immigration system, we are no longer welcome.

What would we be expected to do?

What if both political leaders and our court system decided we had to leave this country? Now let’s add to our problems–we were also part of your country’s poorest people, a people with virtually no political clout and certainly little economic force. We would have immediately become stateless, and would have nowhere to turn to for redress. It couldn’t happen, could it?

But as we are sure you know, in a 2013, decision widely decried as racially motivated, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court (“DRCC”) decided, despite the language of its relevant constitution, citizenship was no longer conferred by birth on Dominican soil. The DRCC, however, did not stop there; it held that its decision applied retroactively for nearly 100 years. In other words, despite the language of its constitution, human rights norms, and decades of reasonable practice, in one stroke of a pen, the DRCC held generations of Dominican citizens, who have only known the Dominican Republic as their home, are now stateless. The DRCC couched its decision as an attempt to gain control of a growing immigration problem; however, this is not an immigration issue as these individuals were citizens, and no legal perversions should have ever changed that reality.

Click HERE for the full text.

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