Dominican Courts Ends Citizenship of Thousands of Haitian Descendents

The explosive move has enraged advocacy organizations and Haitian communities.

Posted: 09/27/2013 12:30 PM EDT

Immigrant advocacy groups have blasted the Dominican Republic’s highest court for jeopardizing the citizenship of tens of thousands of residents, mainly people of Haitian descent.  

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court ruled that anyone born to undocumented migrants since 1929 would have their citizenship denied.

Opponents have argued that the ruling disregards the rights of those impacted and discriminates against predominantly Black Haitians, given that an overwhelming number of Haitians were brought in to the neighboring nation as farm laborers. Those affected might be forced to go into hiding and stripped of basic needs and public services, setting a global crisis into motion, they added.

Ana Maria Belique, a spokeswoman for a nonprofit group that has fought for the rights of children born in the Dominican Republic to migrants such as herself, told AP: “This is outrageous. It's an injustice based on prejudice and xenophobia."

Experts fear that this ruling will further worsen historically strained relations between the Caribbean countries, and possibly set a precedent against immigrant communities elsewhere.

As AP reports:

David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, said the decision was part of a larger effort to keep Haitians from entering the Dominican Republic and to encourage self-deportation of those already here.

He cited the racial differences between the predominantly Black Haitians and mixed-race Dominicans as well as Haiti's plight as one of the world's poorest countries.

"The fear of the Dominican Republic, of being pulled down to the level of Haiti economically and the 'Blackening' of the country, has been an obsession of Dominican politicians for well over a century," he said.

Read the full story here.

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 (Photo: AP Photo/Ezequiel Abiu Lopez, File)

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