News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Haitians do jobs many Dominican Republic natives don't want, often for lower wages. Dominican Republic asks Haitians to register and provide signed work permits from employers. Critics say this targets dark skinned people and is racist-NY Times, 6/16/2015

"Haitians have assumed the jobs that many Dominicans do not want.... The Dominican Republic, as a sovereign nation, has the right to determine its own immigration policy without the interference of other states."
 
6/16/2015, "Haitian Workers Facing Deportation by Dominican Neighbors," NY Times, Azam Ahmed, Mexico City, 6/17 print ed.
 

"Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are facing deportation from the Dominican Republic, the latest in a series of actions by the government that have cast a light on the country’s long-troubled relationship with its Haitian neighbors.

Undocumented workers in the Dominican Republic had until Wednesday to register their presence in the country, in the hope of being allowed to stay.

The government says nearly 240,000 migrant workers born outside the Dominican Republic have started the registration process. But there are an estimated 524,000 foreign-born migrant workers in the country about 90 percent of whom are Haitian, according to a 2012 survey — leaving a huge population of migrants at risk of deportation.

Human rights groups had hoped the government would delay the registration deadline, given the difficulties faced by many in producing documents and satisfying bureaucratic requirements. But there were no indications that the authorities would stall their plan to begin ejecting workers.

“The signals are clear,” said Beneco Enecia, the director of Cedeso, a nonprofit group that works with migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. “The Dominican government is setting up logistics, placing vehicles and personnel to start the process of repatriation.” 

Haitian workers, who have crossed the border for generations to cut sugar cane, clean homes and babysit, have long experienced an uneasy coexistence with their wealthier Dominican neighbors. It is a relationship fraught with resentment, racial tension and the long shadow of the massacre of tens of thousands of Haitian laborers ordered by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1937.

Dominican officials have long said they have borne the brunt of Haiti’s economic troubles, both before and after the 2010 earthquake that devastated their neighbor and sent a stream of people fleeing across the border. 

The tensions peaked in 2013 when a constitutional court moved to strip the citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic as far back as 1929. Many of the people affected by the ruling had lived their whole lives in the Dominican Republic and knew nothing of Haiti, not even the language.

An international outcry prompted the government to soften its stance somewhat with a law the next year. It promised citizenship to children whose births were in the nation’s civil registry, and a chance at nationalization for those not formally registered.

Advocates and international legal bodies said it still fell short. Anything less than full citizenship left these people stateless, belonging neither to their birthplace nor to their family’s homeland, they argued. But that group does not appear to be the target of the deportations, at least not directly.

Andrés Navarro García, the Dominican minister of foreign relations, told reporters on a trip to Spain that a majority of those subject to deportation had already started the registration process and would not be deported. 

For those who do not enter the process, Mr. Navarro said, there will be no mass roundups to deport people. Instead, the government will handle cases individually and work in conjunction with the Haitian government for an orderly transfer of citizens. 

Responding to questions from other regional leaders, however, Mr. Navarro asserted the position his government has taken in the past: that the Dominican Republic, as a sovereign nation, has the right to determine its own immigration policy without the interference of other states. 

The migrant workers who have registered so far have been granted a 45-day grace period during which they can complete the process. Migrants are expected to produce signed work permits from employers, who can be reluctant to provide such documentation. 

The deportations, which could begin in the coming days, have generated a more muted response from other countries than the uproar stirred by the 2013 court ruling, which essentially ordered the mass denationalization of as many as 200,000 Dominican-born children. One reason for the relative diplomatic silence, including from the United States, is the troubled relationship many countries have with migrant workers who enter their borders illegally seeking employment, advocates argued. 

“Migrant deportation is something states don’t want to get into because they themselves want to continue to do such deportations,” said Liliana Gamboa, who coordinates an anti-discrimination project for the Open Society Foundations in the Dominican Republic. “I don’t know how much pushback there can be from other states.”
 

Still, to the extent that deportations occur on a large scale, there is a fear that they will ensnare people who are trying to comply with the law — whether they are children born in the Dominican Republic to migrant workers, or migrant workers who are trying to satisfy the paperwork requirements. 

Some advocates worry that the mechanism to identify potential deportees will be to target any dark-skinned people suspected of being of Haitian descent, whether they have papers or not. 

“There are no adequate screening mechanisms,” said Angelita K. Baeyens, the programs director at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. 

Efforts to process children born in the Dominican Republic whose parents never formally registered them have fallen short. Fewer than 9,000 of an estimated population of tens of thousands have registered themselves as foreigners, as required by the law, a process that in theory puts them on a path to naturalization. 

The status of these children is unclear, potentially leaving them vulnerable to deportation as well.

“If these massive deportations occur, will they include by mistake people who were born in the Dominican Republic?” Ms. Gamboa asked. “Will they follow the standards of international law? Will Haiti be able to receive this number of deportees? And what would their status be in Haiti?”

Others have raised questions about the impact on the Dominican economy. For generations, Haitians have assumed the jobs that many Dominicans do not want, filling a vital part of the labor market, often at below-market rates. Production costs could rise, some experts say, if a large chunk of the labor force is removed. 

But that remains a distant threat. For now, activists like Mr. Enecia of Cedeso say many are resigned to their deportation. 

The criteria is based on racial discrimination,” he said. “Fear, desperation and anguish are the expressions of the people. They feel helpless.”"
 
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Added: "The island of Hispaniola is still marked by a famous dividing line seen prominently in satellite photos: brown, deforested Haiti on one side contrasted with lush green Dominican Republic on the other:" 


 
 
"The border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic highlights the relative deforestation of Haiti. Photograph courtesy NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio."

12/14/2009, "Environmental Destruction, Chaos Bleeding Across Haitian Border," NY Times, Nathanial Gronewald of GreenWire, Malpasse, Haiti

"The spread of deforestation, land degradation and erosion across the border is the surest sign yet that Haiti's ecology is being pushed to its limits.

"The incursions into Dominican territory are creating pressure," said Max Antoine, director of Haiti's border development commission. "The Haitians are creating pressure on their land, creating pressure on their economic space. ... It's a competition between the Haitians and the Dominicans."

Haiti has lost 98 percent of its forests to destructive land use, mainly from the clear-cutting of trees for charcoal production. As vegetation disappears from Haiti, an illegal market for charcoal from the Dominican side is exploding.

The Dominican Republic long ago banned the production of charcoal to protect its forests and began subsidizing propane to wean its population from fuel wood. But that has not stopped desperate Haitians from risking their lives for more charcoal, which provides more than 60 percent of their nation's energy."...






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