WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) — The Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday offered to facilitate negotiations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic due to the recent immigration controversy.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro presented a report in Washington D.C. over the thousands of Haitians facing deportation in the Dominican Republic, where the agency also submitted observations and recommendations after sending inquiry groups to both countries.
The OAS suggests the resumption of mutual dialogue between the countries and the establishment of legal mechanisms for resolving disputes about immigration, according to CNN Español.
The OAS also urges the establishment of “a mechanism of understanding, in the framework of international standards, that allows for the transfer of people between the two countries.”
More than 25,000 Haitians have already left the Dominican Republic to return to Haiti, many of whom were born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants. There were an estimated 500,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic before the recent immigration scandal.
A Dominican government immigration program ended June 17 and Haitians who applied to the program will receive permanent residency, a temporary work visa or rejection. More than 180,000 people were still unregistered by the program’s deadline.
Since then, many Haitians have crossed the border in fear of deportation. The Dominican government previously announced it may start deporting undocumented immigrants from Haiti, leading many Haitians to leave voluntarily, but the Dominican government is also accused of using force.
“People are being detained and shoved across the border,” director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division Jose Miguel Vivanco recently said.
José Tomás Pérez, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the United States, reacted positively to Almagro’s comments.
“We are pleased that it has been recognized that the Dominican Republic has the right to establish immigration laws,” Pérez said in an interview with CNN Español. “Illegal immigrants in all countries need to be regulated and therefore the regulation plan was established so that every citizen has a legal status.”
In 2013, a high court in the Dominican Republic ruled people born in the country between 1929 and 2010 were Dominican citizens, but those born to undocumented migrants are not citizens.
The ruling has caused thousands to become stateless, according to Vivanco.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and killed up to 316,000 people also displaced 1.5 million people initially. Thousands left Haiti to settle in the Dominican Republic, regardless of legal status.
The earthquake is not the only reason some Haitians choose to leave, as many flee from violence and are economic immigrants. The Haitian government is also accused of corruption and instability, which decreases the confidence of its constituents who may seek elsewhere to live.