Friday, August 18, 2017

U.S. Reps Urge State to Resist Citizenship Nullification for Dominicans of Haitian Descent

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Samuel Maxime

Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON, D.C. (sentinel.ht) – U.S. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (Brooklyn, NY/D) along with fifteen other colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging the State Department to resist continued attempts by Dominican Republic to nullify citizenship of Dominicans who come from Haitian descent.

The letter essentially called out the Dominican government in not upholding its assurances to the people and the international community that citizenship of those classified in Group A, would not have their citizenship nullified. It reads, in part:

The Dominican government assured their people andd the international community that individuals who fit in the Group A category were citizens and that a process would be put in place for those individuals to receive the correct citizenship paperwork when the law was passed.

In practice, thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent who are categorized as Group A under Law 169-14 are still struggling to exercise their rights as citizens. Some have not been issued their nationality documents. Others, instead of being registered as citizens of the Dominican Republic, have been registered in the Book of Transcription. The legal status of those entered in this book is unclear. Under Law 169-14, Dominicans of Haitian descent have also had their birth certificates nullified and been given new “transcribed” birth certificates that imply that they were not born in the Dominican Republic.

In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court held that the children of parents who are “in transit” (a category that includes undocumented immigrants) are not citizens. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people who were born in the Dominican Republic – many of whom speak Spanish rather than Haitian Creole – have been defined as non-citizens. Hundreds of people have already been deported, and individuals who have remained often experience discrimination.

Congresswoman Clarke, a signatory, herself, issued the following statement:

“These continued attacks on Dominicans of Haitian descent are unacceptable and must end immediately. There are now people born in the Dominican Republic who speak Spanish and know that nation as their land. These are people who have been defined as non-citizens, effectively stateless non-persons, in their own home. Many Haitians came to the Dominican Republic to work or to escape the turmoil that followed the earthquake in 2010. Forcing them to return to Haiti would result in needless suffering without any purpose. I am also deeply concerned that the nullification of citizenship for people of Haitian descent was motivated by racism against individuals of African descent – a rationale that should never form the basis of policy and has no place in this day and age. I urge the Department of State to work with the government of the Dominican Republic to reverse this terrible decision.”

Letter to Secretary Tillerson

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About The Author

Profile photo of Samuel Maxime

Samuel Maxime is a Haitian-born citizen living in the United States. He founded The Haiti Sentinel to bring Haitian issues to an English language audience.