Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are facing a fast-approaching deadline to receive a much-coveted resident permit that can later be used to gain citizenship in the Dominican Republic. Without it they can be stripped of their current citizen status. They face long lines, if they are unsuccessful by Wednesday, they will be deported.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic have long had a rather contentious relationship. They both share the small island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. Up until recently their shared border has been somewhat open allowing many from the poorer country of Haiti to cross over for work. Despite the presence of so many Haitians, it’s been said that both they and their descendants were often treated as second-class citizens by the wealthier Dominicans. Click here for more information.
In 2013, a law was passed that would severely tighten the citizenship laws. According to the law adopted by the DR Constitutional Court, it could retroactively strip away citizenship from any Haitian-born after 1920 who doesn’t have at least one parent with Dominican blood. The law wouldn’t just affect new migrants but also the descendants of Haitians born in the Dominican Republic. Bruce Levenson knows that many of these people have been in the country so long they consider themselves to be Dominican. Not they are stateless. In answer to protests, the government has said that 500,000 people would be eligible for the much coveted residential permit that may later be exchanged for citizenship. It seems however that few are qualifying at this time.