Dominican Republic to start deportations of immigrants

Dominican government to deport almost 50,000 undocumented immigrants who failed to qualify for legal residence

The Dominican Republic will soon respond to residence permit applications, and 49,466 of the 288,566 immigrants who applied did not qualify, officials in the country have said.

Deputy Interior Minister Washington Gonzalez announced that those who did not meet the requirements will not be granted a regularised immigration status.

In June the Dominican Republic announced that certain immigrants, mainly Haitians and people of Haitian descent who did not qualify for legal residence would be repatriated.

Minister Gonzalez said that the rejected immigrants will be informed by the Department of Migration within 15 to 20 days, and until then repatriations will not take place.

Dominican officials announced that there would be mass deportations before the application deadline in June, however they now claim that repatriations will be on an individual basis.

The Dominican Republic - which neighbours Haiti in the Caribbean - has received Haitian immigrants for generations, who have generally sought low-wage jobs in the country.

Many Haitians and people of Haitian descent have left the Dominican Republic after a residence permit application deadline passed.

Starting from 2013, the Dominican Republic passed several constitutional amendments regarding immigrants. An initial amendment, which was retroactive to 1929, limited citizenship to the children of legal immigrants or the children of Dominican and Haitian couples.

In 2014 the Dominican Republic eased the limitations by passing a law that restored citizenship to people whose births could be verified from the national registry.

Dominican officials also said if evidence is provided showing that the migrants arrived in the country before October 2011 and have been working or studying, they could be granted the right to stay.

However, the update to the immigration laws has not solved problems for many people of Haitian descent who were born in rural areas and thus struggle to obtain the necessary documents to prove their identities.  

Many of them - who do not own birth certificates - are unable to acquire the necessary documents due to high fees and delays. Besides these impediments, there is no authority providing assistance on the issue.

Authorities estimate that there are 450,000 Haitian migrants and thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Republic.

United Nations human rights experts in July have urged the Dominican Republic to stop arbitrary deportations and racial profiling of Haitian immigrants.

TRTWorld and agencies