Haitian migrants who are living in the Dominican Republic and whose citizenships are in question have until Wednesday to register with the government for an opportunity to obtain legal residency in the country. Those who are not approved face deportation.
This is the latest update in tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti following a constitutional court ruling that applied restrictions to who could be granted citizenship in the Spanish-speaking country in September 2013.
About 90 percent of the estimated 524,000 foreign workers in the Dominican Republic are Haitian, the New York Times reports. At least 240,000 workers born outside of the Dominican Republic have registered. “The signals are clear,” said Beneco Enecia to The Times. Encecia is the director of Cedeso. “The Dominican government is setting up logistics, placing vehicles and personnel to start the process of repatriation.”
Many of the migrants working in the Dominican Republic work in the sugar cane fields and domestic jobs that are typically low in wage.
Residents who grew up in the Dominican Republic but were born to foreign-born parents — all the way back to 1929 — were affected by the new citizenship requirements. Since the ruling, there have been numerous reports of Dominican immigrant agents and soldiers conducting sweeps of neighborhoods and setting up checkpoints to targeting Haitians living in the country illegally.
Previously, the Dominican government blamed the spread of cholera that killed thousands of Haitians in late 2010 following the earthquake.
The sweeps have caused outrage with some humanitarian groups and both the United Nations and the Pope have spoken out about the manner in which the country handled the deportation of Haitians and those of Haitian descent.
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