BAJI Takes the Human Rights Crisis in the DR to Congress

Late last month, Black Alliance (coupons) and allies descended upon DC to educate lawmakers about the plight of 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent who were rendered stateless after a 2013 Dominican court ruling which ended birthright citizenship in the country. According to the New York Times:

“The law … was seen by many in the human rights community as thinly veiled discrimination against the Dominicans’ darker-skinned neighbors.”

Not surprisingly, the Dominican government disagreed, claiming that:

“[A]llowing illegal immigrants a path to naturalization is more generous than the policies of many countries, including the United States. Besides, many Dominicans feel as if their country is under siege by migrants and want to bring the flow of entrants under control.”

This sentiment was echoed by several federal lawmakers that we met with.
While the U.S. undoubtedly has its own immigration challenges, and a vibrant anti-birthright citizenship movement, our administrative processes (while leaving much to be desired) are easier to navigate, the steps to obtain an immigration visa or lawful permanent residence card are clear, and the power of government agents that process applications are limited.

Gone are the days of (“the Old”) Jim Crow and its grandfather clauses, which prevented Blacks from voting and obtaining identity documents. Moreover, our own anti-birthright citizenship movement is isolated and, aside from the musings of certain presidential candidates, has been ridiculed by experts.
But in the DR:

Haitian migrants have had trouble getting birth certificates for the children they have had in [the DR] for generations. Then, when those Dominican-born children grow old enough to have families of their own, they have no documentation to prove their nationality, either …This perpetuates the cycle of a second-class population or lower-class population in the country,” NY Times.

As the NY Times notes this happens because “local workers grow up in a society deep in anti-Haitian sentiment, and they take the law into their own hands …preventing Haitian migrants or Dominicans of Haitian descent from rights granted to them by Dominican laws.”
In addition, some of our allies have learned of instances where armed civilian militia, much like The Minutemen, in the U.S., have profiled, kidnapped, and transported Dominicans of Haitian descent to the DR/Haiti border. Rather than cracking down on such groups, the Dominican government has denied its existence.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government has done little to support the thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent, many who have relatives in the U.S. While several lawmakers have met with the Dominican government to no avail, the State department has yet to take an official stance against the deportations and a resolution denouncing the DR’s human rights abuses has yet to gain traction.

During our meetings with legislators we urged them to sign on to a joint letter to the State Department urging them to intervene, to reintroduce the resolution denouncing the unjust deportations in the DR, and to hold a congressional hearing on the matter. We’re hopeful that Congress will take action