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  • More than 17,000 people have poured across the border into Haiti when a registration program for undocumented migrants ran out in the Dominican Republic.

    More than 17,000 people have poured across the border into Haiti when a registration program for undocumented migrants ran out in the Dominican Republic. | Photo: Reuters

Human rights groups estimate that up to 200,000 people are in legal limbo and stateless as they are not recognized as a citizens by either country.

Hundreds of Haitians, including many sugarcane workers, gathered in front of their embassy in the Dominican Republic Tuesday to demand the return of over $US100,000, which they say was allocated to processing immigration papers that were never received.

The protest follows a 2013 court ruling in the Dominican Republic that, according to the United Nations, has denied children of Haitian migrants their birth certificates, identity documents, and stripped them of their nationality.

RELATED: Dominican Republic Deportations and the Global Economy

The Dominican government implemented a system of registrations giving two-year temporary migrant status to those who could meet requirements. Over 210,000 people have reportedly enrolled so far.

However according to protesters, this system never granted them any documents, despite the costly fees they paid in the process.

"We are calling for the US$102,230 that were deposited in the BHD Bank in the name of Haitian Embassy to be returned,” Coordinator of the National Union of Sugar Workers Jesus Nunez told Reuters. “Until now, not one sugarcane worker has a certificate, an identity card or a passport."

Human rights groups estimate that up to 200,000 people are in legal limbo and stateless — not recognized as a citizen by Haiti or the Dominican Republic. They suspect that the Government policy is related to long-standing racism toward darker-skinned Haitians.

RELATED: The Origins of Anti-Haitian Sentiment in the Dominican Republic

Last month, Haiti's Prime Minister Evans Paul said the return of Haitians to the Dominican Republic was causing a humanitarian crisis, as 14,000 people arrived in one only week, reported The Guardian.

As for protesters, however, the Haitian government did not make much effort to support this population.

"The Haitian president has to give us greater support, because we are Haitians living in the Dominican Republic,” Michelle Jossef told Reuters. This is why we have come here, to demand our rights, for the money they have taken from us to give us our documents, false documents."

RELATED: Blackness Without Borders: Global Caribbean Solidarity for Haitians

In the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince last week, thousands demonstrated in support with their compatriots living in the Dominican Republic, demanding their government prohibit the importation of products from the neighboring island.

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