With tent cities of returned Haitians already springing up along the Dominican-Haitian border, the Dominican Republic continues to reject calls for dialogue.
Haitian authorities and international organizations have located at least three improvised tent cities in Haiti's southern border region, accoring to press reports, to serve as refugee camps for Haitian-Dominicans who have returned to poverty-stricken Haiti under pressure, threat, or force.
At least tens of thousands of Haitians and Haitian descendants have recently left the Dominican Republic to avoid abrupt deportation. Hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans fear mass expulsion as part of the state regularization plan for undocumented immigrants launched in June.
But Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, many who are laborers providing the backbone of the Dominican sugarcane industry, have faced serious challenges in registering with authorities.
In addition to registration spaces falling far short of the number of undocumented immigrants required to regularize their status, many have found the process difficult to navigate with limited information made available by authorities.
And at least hundreds who have made an attempt to register and paid a fee to regularize their status have yet to receive their documents, escalating fears that they could still face deportation.
At a protest this week in the Dominican capital Santo Domingo, sugarcane workers demanded the return of over US$100,000 paid by Haitian immigrants for documents they say they have never received, Democracy Now reported.
Haitians deported from the Dominican Republic take refuge close to the border with Dominican Republic, on 20 June, 2015. | Photo: Reuters
Meanwhile, Dominican authorities have reiterated that they are not open to engaging in dialogue with Haiti, insisting that immigration law is a sovereign national issue.
“Dominican immigration policy and its enforcement mechanisms are within the exclusive jurisdiction of our state, and are not subject to negotiations,” said Dominican Foreign Minister Andres Navarro Thursday, according to Diario Libre.
The comments come in response to the release of a report by an Organization of American States mission in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which recommended the body mediate a bilateral dialogue to diffuse tensions between the two Caribbean nations.
Navarro added that there is no need for mediation because “there is not currently a conflict between the two countries to warrant such a thing.”
Haitian authorities, on the other hand, who have condemned the Dominican Republic for provoking a humanitarian crisis but also called for a dialogue process, welcomed the OAS mission's observations and recommendations.
Sugar cane workers protests the Dominican regularization plan with a banner condemning deportations. | Photo: Xinhua
After a government-imposed deadline for undocumented immigrants, including some half a million Haitian descendants stripped of Dominican citizenship in 2013, to register with immigration authorities came down in June, the government opened a period of “voluntary repatriation.” The government provided free transportation to the border for Haitian-Dominicans who volunteered to leave leave the country “freely” in order to speed up the mass exodus.
Transportation authorities announced on Thursday that free transportation services to the border will be canceled as of Monday, saying that vandalism against 60 buses last week has been costly for transportation providers.
It remains unclear what the fate of Haitian-Dominicans will be once the services to facilitate “voluntary” return to Haiti are suspended next week.
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