Immigration authorities in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic are preparing to resume the deportation of individuals without legal residency in the Dominican Republic after not having done so for a year.
Army General Ruben Paulino and other members of the military will begin to patrol neighbourhoods known to house large numbers of migrant workers on Thursday as soon as the Interior Minister Ramon Fadul’s deadline of no more mass deportations and sweeps registration deadline expires on Wednesday evening. Already, the military has prepared multiple vehicles and patrol teams by giving them human rights training with relation to deportation operations so that all deportations and seizures will be done in a way that does not violate an individual’s human rights.
Since opening the registration in June 2014, about 250,000 people, largely from Haiti, have applied for legal residency, but only about 10,000 were able to provide enough documentation to obtain legal residency, of these, only about 300 people received permanent residency papers. Not to mention an additional mass amount of people who as of 2013, had been refused citizenship if they were born to illegal migrants, even if they were born on Dominican soil. This has been incredibly difficult for the children of the Haitian immigrants as they are now stateless and are denied services like health care despite the fact that some have lived in Dominican Republic for years.
I find this extremely problematic. Haitians have a long history of migrating to the Dominican Republic due to the immense poverty in Haiti. As a result of 80% of Haitians being poor (as of 2003), an estimated 800,000 left Haiti for the Dominican Republic where they took positions in low paid unskilled jobs in construction, house cleaning and in the horrific plantations. Not only will these people be deported back to Haiti and a life of uncertainty, but many of them have never even been there. The children of illegal immigrants are especially worried as they will be deported to a country they have never lived in. Many have no idea how they will live seeing as how they have jobs in the Dominican Republic.
Not only is this sending so many thousands of people into lives of uncertainty, but I feel as if this could cause a flare of Haitian and Dominican tensions. After Haiti occupied the Dominican Republic three times in the early nineteenth century and attempted to unify the two countries under one leader, followed by the thousands of migrants from Haiti being hired to work in the Dominican sugar cane fields, there has been years of mistrust and tension. Not to mention the fact that many Haitians had fled to the Dominican escape political violence in a country that has been unstable and economically devastated for years. By deporting so many people in mass numbers, I do not see anything good coming from this and I find the human rights training that General Paulino is promising to be interesting, because I do not see it working out very well. The world will watch and hope that the deportations go smoothly, but I know I for one, will fear for the worst.