As the deadline for undocumented people applying for temporary visas arrives today in the Dominican Republic, activists prepare to wrap up a National Week of Action on Sunday in protest of what they say is discrimination against Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent.
Writes Huffington Post:
Groups from New York, Philadelphia, Miami and other U.S. cities have banded together in a loose coalition called #Rights4AllInDR, holding sit-ins and organizing protests ahead of an Aug. 1 deadline for those without papers in the Dominican Republic to finish registering as foreigners with the government. The groups plan to hold a march toward the White House on Saturday.
The most controversial issue driving the protests is the Dominican government’s decision to revoke citizenship from the children of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom are of Haitian descent and black, fueling charges that racism played a role in creating the policy.
According to a Facebook post by Rights4AllInDr:
The Obama Administration must not turn a blind eye to the human rights crisis taking place in the Dominican Republic as Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants alike are forcibly removed, coerced, and intimidated to flee their homes, lives, and families. We will march to the White House and demand that our leaders speak up in the face of grave injustice.
The march to the White House will begin at the Organization of American States at 11 a.m. E.T. in Washington, D.C. More details are on Facebook. Other actions are planned nationwide.
What led up to the week of action?
As reported back in 2013, about 200,000 Dominicans whose parents were Haitian immigrants were stripped of their birthright citizenship. Then this summer, the Dominican Republic moved to have all undocumented workers register or face deportation. A couple hundred thousand had started their paperwork, according to the Dominican government, but more than 180,000 were still unregistered as of June 17. Advocates fear that thousands of poor people who were born in the Dominican Republic will be swept up in the deportations. Meanwhile, destitute tent cities have been cropping up on the Haiti side of the border with the Dominican Republic, populated by those who have already left.
Activists are pressing the Obama administration to do more, some favoring a tourism boycott and others hoping the U.S. will leverage its status as a trade partner to put pressure on the Dominican government, according to the Huffington Post.
However, the Obama administration has “offered little public criticism of the country’s efforts to expel Haitians or their undocumented, Dominican-born children. Dominican nationalists often point out that the Obama administration has built a reputation for mass deportations, including of Haitians.”
Apparently a State Department spokesperson wrote to HuffPost by email last month saying that the U.S. has asked Dominican authorities to abide by international standards as it carries out deportations.
However, during a visit to a deportee holding center near Santo Domingo last month, the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic praised the country’s deportation efforts Huffington Post wrote, citing a Spanish-language report by the Dominican daily Listín Diario. “‘Everything’s in very good order,” Ambassador James Brewster said during the visit. “‘I hope that when people arrive here they’ll be treated well. I don’t have any doubt that they will.'”
SOURCE: Huffington Post, Facebook | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty