The Dominican Republic has issued 8,640 citizenship licenses to undocumented immigrants among the more than 300,000, mostly Haitians, who are the target of the country's national regularization plan, Diario Libre reported Wednesday.
In the National District surrounding the Dominican capital city of Santo Domingo alone, some 45,000 foreign nationals or undocumented descendants are registered with the plan.
But, regularization spaces are limited, leaving tens of thousands of irregular status immigrants, mostly Haitian-Dominicans, on the brink of mass deportation.
With a recent government-imposed deadline for undocumented migrants to register with authorities as part of a state regularization plan, tens of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans have faced mass expulsion from the Dominican Republic. On the other side of the shared Caribbean island of Hispaniola, poverty-stricken Haiti lacks the resources to support a massive influx of migrants.
Some half a million Haitian-Dominicans were left stateless by a 2013 Dominican court decision to retroactively strip Haitian descendants of citizenship. Dominican authorities claim the regularization plan is in solidarity with Haitian immigrants, but the plan has been condemned internationally for violating human rights and fomenting a humanitarian crisis on the island.
Meanwhile, Haiti has refused to apologize to the Dominican Republic for criticizing its immigration policy, a condition Dominican authorities have demanded in order to engage in diplomatic talks with Haiti on the migration situation.
“It's difficult to ask victims to apologize to their torturers,” said Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul on Tuesday.
About 2,000 people demonstrated in a “march for dignity” in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince Tuesday in solidarity with Haitian-Dominicans facing deportation, aimed at pressuring authorities to take diplomatic measures to address the migration crisis.
Calls for Haitian authorities to implement a trade blockade against Dominican products and issue the necessary identification documents to Haitians as needed to help ensure their legal status were among the key demands of demonstrators.
A demonstrator shows an immigration document for enrolling in the Dominican regularization program during the “march for dignity” in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince Tuesday. The banner above reads “Racist Dominican State, Xenophobic Dominican State.” | Photo: EFE
The Dominican Republic has remained firm that authorities will not engage in dialogue as long as their Haitian counterparts are vocal about migration policy, which the Dominican government sees as a sovereign national issue.
“If the Haitian government wants the well-being of its citizens, the first thing it must do is cease these inconsiderate attacks against the Dominican Republic,” said Dominican Foreign Minister Andres Navarro on Monday, adding that Haiti is responsible for failing to provide necessary documentation to Haitians residing in the Dominican Republic required to regularize their status.
Many stateless Dominican-born Haitian descendants have never been to Haiti, and may not even speak either of Haiti's official languages of French or Creole French.
Flows of Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic have provided decades of cheap labor that have been the backbone of industries like sugar cane production and have helped develop the Dominican Republic's economy, while Haiti has remained much poorer.
WATCH: On Just Cause, Piedad Cordoba explores the legal abuses committed in the Dominican Republic against citizens of Haitian descent based on changes to the country's laws and constitution