When a registration deadline passed in June, the Dominican Republic (DR) promised to deport those who failed to meet the requirements. DR faced an international outcry from human rights advocates and other Caribbean nations, but so far, no significant response from the US government. Since June, DR has maintained that international media and human rights groups are misrepresenting what’s really going on. The article below provides evidence that DR may be doing the misleading. DR apparently hired a lobbying firm, Steptoe & Johnson, to help stem the negative reactions to their inhumane policies. Steptoe & Johnson was asked to place opinion pieces in mainstream US media and meet with members of the foreign affairs committee, among other duties. Perhaps that has something to do with the US government’s delayed public response to the crisis?
Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.
Dominican Republic Spending Big Bucks on DC Lobbyist to Pushback on Criticism of Migration Policy
Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research
July 10, 2015
In September 2013 the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court ruled that those born to undocumented foreigners would not be able to maintain citizenship, mainly impacting Dominicans of Haitian descent. The deadline to formalize one’s legal status passed in June, with many thousands left unable to do so because of a lack of documentation. Already nearly 40,000 have “voluntarily” self-deported to Haiti, fearing a looming crackdown in the country many of them have never left. At a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) Wednesday, Haitian foreign minister Lener Renauld accused the Dominicans of leaving Haitians at the border “like dogs.”
But just three months after the court’s ruling, before the world’s attention turned to the island of Hispaniola and the humanitarian crisis on the border, the Dominican Republic hired a D.C.-based lobbying firm to assist with “consolidating and strengthening the image of the Dominican State in the eyes of the [sic] international public opinion,” according to documents filed as part of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The documents show that the Dominican Republic paid the lobbying firm Steptoe & Johnson over $820,000 between January and August of 2014. The relationship appears to be ongoing however, and it is likely that those costs have only increased with the spotlight now firmly on the Dominican Republic and the firm bringing in hourly rates of around $1,000.
Click HERE for the full text.