A refugee crisis is developing on the border of the Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti as thousands of people of Haitian descent flee discrimination and threats in DR. In 2013, the DR government issued a ruling that retroactively stripped citizenship from descendants of immigrants born in the country all the way back to 1929. This left hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless and when most were unable to meet difficult registration deadlines, DR promised to begin deporting them. Facing the threat of sudden deportation, along with harassment and threats from their neighbors, thousands packed their belongings and moved to Haiti. Large camps have formed on the border, full of people who have no resources, no support, and often no family ties.
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[OP ED] The Other Refugee Crisis
The Dominican Republic’s sudden deportation of now-stateless Haitians is no less a crisis than recent events in Syria
France François, Ebony
September 16, 2015
Yanique’s Dominican neighbors, the same people she had lived and worked side by side with for decades, pounded on her door in the middle of the night chanting violent demands for her to leave the country. Pregnant and terrified, Yanique grabbed all that she could carry as she ran out of the back door. She left town in the dead of the night, hidden in the back of a pickup truck. The following morning, she found herself standing amidst a dusty camp made up of makeshift tents cobbled together with tarp, plastic and tin. When all that she had lost suddenly hit her, she dissolved into a panic attack. Her twins were delivered stillborn three days later.
In the remote Haitian border town of Anse-à-Pitre, two of the many tent camps that have sprouted up since June hold almost 2,000 of the 63,000 Haitians and Dominicans who fled the Dominican Republic. Many left with only the clothes on their backs. The ongoing reports of human rights abuses, mob violence and discrimination against Black people in the Dominican Republic have fueled their fear of being persecuted based on race and ethnicity. Having fled the DR, these people can be considered refugees under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. An hour away from Florida, this is the other refugee crisis the world has forgotten.
For decades, the Dominican government and Dominican sugar plantations with ties to the U.S. systematically imported Haitians to work in the sugarcane plantations. These Haitian cane-cutters lived in remote areas called bateyes, often with no access to running water, electricity, social services or legal representation.
What should have been seasonal work turned into a permanent state of indentured servitude for many.
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