Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gonzalez: Citizenship of Haitians in Dominican Republic for decades threatened by court ruling



The Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court ordered a government review of all birth certificates issued since 1929 for the purpose of determining how many Dominican-born children of foreigners were born 'in transit' and wrongly granted citizenship. Human rights advocates called it pure 'racism and xenophobia.'

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State Sen. Adriano Espaillat blasts “injustice.”

Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat says that the court ruling is about 'targeting the Haitians.'

In 2008, government officials in the Dominican Republic seized the birth certificate of Juliana Deguis Pierre, 23, who had been born in that Caribbean nation to Haitian immigrants and had never lived anywhere else.
Since her parents had not been legal residents, officials said, she was actually a foreigner “born in transit” and not entitled to the citizenship granted to her at birth.
Deguis Pierre challenged the seizure, and her case was decided by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court last month in a ruling that stunned human rights advocates around the globe.
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The high court not only annulled Deguis Pierre’s citizenship, it threatened the status of hundreds of thousands of people born in that country as far back as four generations ago.
The judges ordered a government review of all birth certificates issued since 1929 — the year a previous constitution took effect. They directed officials to determine how many Dominican-born children of foreigners “in transit” had been wrongly granted citizenship and to annul that status for all of them.
Estimates of the number of people affected range from 200,000 to half a million — with the overwhelming majority from Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
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Manuel Maria Mercedes, president of the Dominican Human Rights Commission, has called it pure and simple “racism and xenophobia.”
“This is all about targeting the Haitians,” New York State Sen. Adriano Espaillat said. “Dominicans here need to press for a national debate on this injustice. You can’t be ‘born in transit’ when your parents have been there for 40 years.”
Demonstrators chant slogans outside the Dominican Republic's embassy on Oct. 8 to protest the country's new law that denies citizenship to the children of Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic.

Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

Demonstrators chant slogans outside the Dominican Republic's embassy on Oct. 8 to protest the country's new law that denies citizenship to the children of Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic.

Johnny McCalla, who for more than 20 years headed the National Coalition for Haitian Rights in this country, can’t believe what’s happening.
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“It was convenient for decades to import Haitians to cut sugar cane and build roads and fancy hotels, and even their new subway system,” McCalla said, “but now they don’t care about the children of those workers.”
Even more alarming, says Syracuse University historian Silvio Torres-Saillant, is the “assault on established ideas of Dominican nationality.”
For the first time, the court referred to a “common cultural vision, common language, and shared racial traits” as defining the Dominican nation, Torres Saillant said. To him, it sounds “more like Germany in the 1930s.”
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Already, students born and raised in the Dominican Republic with Haitian parents or grandparents are being denied school grades or applications because they can’t produce legal identification, says Zenaida Mendez of the Dominican-American Roundtable in New York.
Our own Sen. Espaillat is urging a referendum back in his homeland “to amend the constitution and fix this mess.”
Meanwhile, McCalla suggests “tourism should be targeted.”
If thousands of American tourists suddenly started boycotting idyllic Dominican resorts like Puerto Plata and Punta Cana, they’d get the message down there that racism is bad for business.

Blogger stanchaz said...
SHAME. These callous, racist actions of the Dominican Republic government are truly shameful. And even more shameful are the anti-Christian rantings of Archbishop Rodriquez., who wholeheartedly embraced this ruling. He sounds like a lowlife politican rather than a compassionate man of God. I truly believe that this is the Government's doing, not the mixed mosaic that is the Dominican people. But someone , in turn, should investigate the faked birth certificates of Dominicans who -masquerading as Puerto Ricans- come to the United States seeking a better life. Seeking to escape the hopelessness and corruption of the Dominican Republic regime. I don't necessarily begrudge them that all too human impulse. But I do find it both ironic and shameful that they -in turn- would deny Haitians, even Haitians born on their own soil, the same chance to live a better life. If they create a huge minority of second-class non-citizen, stateless semi-slaves, then they will surely reap the unpleasant consequences in the years to come, They will reap the bitter fruits of what they now sow....never to fulfill their potential.
October 24, 2013 at 7:27 AM
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