By Esther “EJ” Dupervil
On June 16 the registration process to apply for legal status in the Dominican Republic will end, leaving hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless.
“What ends on 16 June is the registration process in Dominican Republic’s Plan to Regularize Foreigners,” Dominican Foreign Affairs Minister Andres Navarro, said. “On June 17 there will not be any deportations because as established in the plan, after the registration process closes, all foreigners who met all the requirements will receive a definitive document, within a 45-day timeframe, and those who still have documents pending for presentation will receive a provisional document.”
In 2013, a ruling made by the Dominican Constitutional Court retroactively altered the criteria for obtaining nationality for those born between 1929 and 2010 to foreign parents in the Dominican Republic.
After international pressure, the Dominican government formed a new law in May 2014 that extended citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent, who officially registered under the civil registry and had existing identity papers. Those who do have not registered, however, face deportation to a country in which they have no legal protections.
To remedy this problem the Dominican government instituted the “Regularization Plan for Migrants.” This plan would provide the opportunity for Dominico- Haitians who failed to register under the civil registry and don’t have existing identity papers to gain legal standing in the country by providing proper documentation as proof of their Dominican nationality.
Those who provided sufficient evidence of their birth would still be recognized as foreigners with secondary class status for at least two years before they complete the naturalization process.
Outside of having to wait two years to complete the naturalization process, some other issues have presented themselves that has called this process into criticism.
Although 200,000 people are eligible for the program, less than 10 percent have gone through the process, largely due to administrative obstacles. For example, one of the requirements is an active bank account. This is problematic because most of these people do not have the necessary documentation to open a bank account.
After the June 16 deadline, Dominico- Haitians will face an uncertain future and are at risk of being deemed stateless. The Dominican government has opened seven “welcome’ centers near the Haitian border and requested 36 large passenger in anticipation of the upcoming deportations.
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