Haitian descendants demand restoration of Dominican nationality

Santo Domingo, May 23 (EFE).- Descendants of Haitian migrants protested Tuesday outside the Dominican Republic’s National Congress about what they say are obstacles faced by people trying to recover the Dominican nationality that was taken from them in 2013 by a controversial court decision.

The demonstration took place on the ninth anniversary of the enactment of the Special Naturalization Law, billed as a remedy to the effects of the ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, which had the effect of stripping legal residence from tens of thousands of Haitians, including many who were born in the Dominican Republic.

But “a series of obstacles have been established” to impede the efforts of Haitian descendants to be reinstated as legal residents, Movimiento Reconocido (Recognized Movement), the group that organized Tuesday’s protest, said in a letter to the congressional leadership.

During the nine years the Special Naturalization Law has been in effect, according to the letter, the problem of statelessness has grown to include “a new generation.”

Dominicans of Haitian descent confront “lack of information, lack of resources, lack of transparency, and the non-existence of mechanisms of making claims and appealing cases,” the group said.

Only some 800 people – less than 1 percent of the those rendered stateless by the 2013 court decision – have secured decrees of naturalization, Movimiento Reconocido said.

Without identity documents, Dominicans of Haitian descent find it difficult to gain access to services such as health care and education and to obtain title to property.

In the past, the Dominican government cited unofficial estimates of around 1 million Haitians living in the country, most of them illegal immigrants working in agriculture and construction.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.

Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugarcane.

Haitians are often the target of mob violence and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants and their offspring. EFE mmv/dr

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