Delegates from the Organization of American States (OAS) met with Haitian authorities in the capital Port-au-Prince Monday as part of a mission looking into the Dominican Republic's migration policy toward Haitians, Cuban press agency Prensa Latina reported.
OAS members met with Haitian civil society organizations behind closed doors to discuss the Dominican Republic's regularization plan that has already forced more than 40,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent to leave the country, with tens of thousands more facing mass deportation.
Before arriving in Haiti on Sunday, the OAS delegation conducted a two-day mission in the Dominican Republic, which included meetings with authorities and civil society organizations in the capital city Santo Domingo and visits to Dominican-Haiti border areas.
The beginning of the Haitian leg of the OAS delegation comes as the Regional Cultural Committee of Caribbean bloc CARICOM called on the organization to urge the Dominican Republic to put a stop to its racist migration policy that threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis in the region.
The OAS mission was ordered by Secretary General Luis Almagro to facilitate a “long-term solution that regularizes the legal state of immigrants” after the Dominican Republic and Haiti expressed differing views on the immigration situation before the regional body.
While the Dominican Republic has defended its migration policy as a sovereign issue and criticized Haiti at the OAS for not taking responsibility for Haitian descendents, Haiti condemned the Dominican Republic for treating immigrants inhumanely and provoking a humanitarian crisis on the shared island of Hispaniola.
Tensions between the two countries flared when a recent Dominican government-imposed deadline for stateless Haitians to register with authorities put a time limit on Haitian-Dominicans stay in the country as tens of thousands faced impending mass deportation.
Of the some half a million stateless Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, after a 2013 court decision instantly stripped stripped Haitian descendants of citizenship retroactively, less than 2 percent of Haitian immigrants have been granted Dominican citizenship rights through the regularization program. More than 40,000 Haitians have already been forced out of the country, though Dominican authorities insist they have left voluntarily.
Haiti, historically poorer than the Dominican Republic and still reeling after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that shattered already weak services and left thousands of homes, businesses, and institutions in ruins, has expressed concern that the country does not have the resources to deal with a massive influx of tens of thousands of migrants.
As far back as the late 1800s, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have crossed the border fleeing violence and poverty to seek a better life in the Dominican Republic.
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