Hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants and Haitian descendants face risk of deportation as the deadline of a new law in the Dominican Republic approaches.
Dominican officials have said anyone without documents would face deportation. Up to 200,000 people born to parents who are undocumented also face risk of expulsion.
The Dominican Republic says the law change is necessary to tackle illegal immigration. Human Rights groups say the change is mostly driven by xenophobia towards Haitian people due to their darker skin.
Haitians escape the political violence and chaos in Haiti aiming to start a new life in the Dominican Republic. Most immigrants work as sugar cane cutters, house cleaners and babysitters.
Human Rights activists say the new law will act as a reversal of citizenship rights to foreigners in the Dominican Republic.
Danilo Medina, president of the country said no mass deportations will take place, and added that those deemed eligible would earn a two-year temporary migrant status.
The Dominican army readily has 2,000 troops to help deport those who lack documents and dozens of buses are on standby to transport these people.
Haitians who do not possess the required documents, wait in fear, but insist that they will never return to Haiti, despite efforts of the Dominican government.
Amnesty International is concerned about the move, and analysts say the deportation of so many workers would tarnish the country’s economy.
“If someone arrives and says they’re Dominican, how do I know?” said the Dominican Interior Minister, Ramon Fadul in defence of the regulation, and added that he rejects international criticism.