Haiti vs Dominican Republic: Battle over citizenship continues

Haiti  shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, yet the two countries are not good neighbors.

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, yet the two countries are not good neighbors.

When is a citizen not a citizen? When they are of Haitian descent.

Apparently, citizenship is no longer a right, but a privilege in the Dominican Republic. According to an October 2013 Dominican Constitutional Court, those Domincans of Haitian descent are no longer considered citizens. “The decision applies to those born after 1929 – a category that overwhelmingly includes descendants of Haitians brought in to work on farms. It appears to affect even their grandchildren, said Wade McMullen, a New York-based attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.”

Since the UN estimates over 210,000 children born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent since 1929, one can only imagine the crisis this creates for children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren of the original Haitian immigrants. Complicating matters is the fact that many of those descendants have never visited Haiti, nor do they speak Haitian Creole.

“The Dominican government is currently analyzing the birth certificates of more than 16,000 people, while electoral authorities have refused to issue identity documents to 40,000 people of Haitian descent.” (Huffington Post 2013)

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Famine on one side; Feast on the other. Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right) share one island but circumstances have left one side a wasteland, and the other a lush tropical jungle.

As if this weren’t ridiculous enough, the Dominican Republic also proposed to build a fence along the lines of the border to prevent further Haitian migration (Repeating Islands October 16, 2013). For more on that particular tidbit of news, read the full post Dominican Republic Lawmakers Welcome Haiti’s Wall at Border.

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