Citizenship in the Dominican Republic

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The government of the Dominican Republic has decided to revoke citizenship from those born in the country to Haitian migrants. Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, and Associate Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley, Roxanna Altholz, explains what the decision will mean for the thousands of Dominican citizens of Haitian descent who are now stateless, and what led to the decision. Edward Paulino, professor of history at John Jay College and an organizer of Border of Lights, a group dedicated to Haitian-Dominican history, talks about relations between the two countries. 


Roxanna Altholz

Comments [36]

Miriam Neptune from Bronx, NY

Thank you Brian Lehrer show, for covering this story. I wish there had been more time for Roxanna and Eduardo to talk about how the legalized discrimination against people of Haitian descent in DR exposes them to incredible violence. This is a matter of life and death. When you do not "exist" on paper in a country, it's very easy for people to target you for violence and for the authorities to do nothing. This has been the case for many people who have already had their birth certificates denied. It's also common for the military to brutalize people in the process of deporting them, which they have done to over 47,000 people in the past year. Interested listeners should join us at an event this weekend October 12, at 11am at St. Francis College - One Island: Two Houses, sponsored by City Lore and Center for Traditional Music and Dance. The focus of the event is on the connections between Haitian and Dominican traditional music and dance, but Professor Eduardo Paulino and Dominico-Haitian activist Leticia Pierre will be part of a panel I am moderating to discuss the current social and political climate in DR.

Oct. 09 2013 03:43 AM
Debra Alba from Albuquerque, NM

SHAME on the Dominican Republic's Supreme court!

Oct. 08 2013 04:47 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"^^Many of them won't have to worry about it anymore... at least David Ortiz & Robinson Cano are now US citizens."

I'm guessing they have Dual Citizenship.

Oct. 08 2013 01:25 PM

Will "big pappy", Soriano, and other DR baseball players of possible "African-Haitian" heritage, be stripped of their DR citizenship? Probably not.

^^Many of them won't have to worry about it anymore... at least David Ortiz & Robinson Cano are now US citizens.

Oct. 08 2013 12:30 PM

Seriously !!!! This is just a resolved of a broken and corrupt system..The Dark skin Dominicans lacking of material possessions should be afraid to be deported to Haiti as well. Wealthiest Haitians living in the Dominican Republic in other hand don't worry you are safe. "We know you are Dominican".

Oct. 08 2013 12:28 PM
Branly from New Jersey, USA

As a Dominican immigrant in the US, I feel embarrassed and shamed by the Dominican Supreme Court ruling denying Dominican citizenship to children born from illegal Haitian immigrants after 1929. This ruling has clearly set us back and shown the world the criminal levels of racism and prejudice that have been institutionalized in the Dominican fabric since 1822. Every Dominican living abroad should think about the reasons of their migration and then ask whether Haitians also have the right to seek "betterment"?

Oct. 08 2013 11:54 AM
antonio from baySide

Answer: The IMF, the debt it had to pay to France, US meddling (i.e. destabilizing various markets)...

Oct. 08 2013 11:43 AM

All this is showing is the xenophobism of dominicans towards Haitians to go as far to strip the citizenship of people who are several generations dominicans, having lived worked and contributed to the economy. It's much worse than the complaints americans have against mexicans because there isn't as much of racist component to it. As the guest pointed out relationships haven't always been bad there is this bery long history of collaboration but it seems the dominicans are too blind and prejudice to see that side of the coin at least the one in the supreme court are.

Oct. 08 2013 11:41 AM
Marie Cerat from Brooklyn

It is historically inaccurate to say that Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic. When President Boyer entered the Santo Domingo side of the island, around 1822 or so, it was against colonial Spain and to put an end to the slavery-colonial system established by Spain on the island around 1501. In other words, the Dominican Republic did not yet exist as a country.

In any case, the recent ruling by the Dominican court to strip Dominicans of Haitian descent of their birthright and nationality is a flagrant violation of human rights, and it also provides Dominican authorities with a new tool for upholding and re-enacting ethnic cleansing policy and practices in the 21st.

Oct. 08 2013 11:38 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

antonio from baySide said:

"I wonder if Haiti was comprised of descendants of Nordics, would we still be having this conversation."

If Haiti were comprised of descendants of "Nordics", Dominicans would be sneaking into Haiti for a better life.

Question is why is Haiti the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?

Oct. 08 2013 11:32 AM
ivan obregon from nyc

Every Dominican citizen of Haitian descent has been stripped of nationality going back to any and all immigrants from Haiti even before....Trujillo's massacre in 1937. Imagine if Puerto Rico or the USA decided to do something so blatantly racist to any or all descendants of....Dominican immigrants here. If you want to control the border, then put up a damn wall and expand your own border patrol....but don't dehumanize those already assimilated and.....Dominican. My ex-wife is Dominican and if she has any Haitian descent, then so does our son and stripping either one of them of their heritage, unknown or unclaimed, "biological" or cultural (guess where the merengue comes from?), it would be wrong even if....they don't have any immigrant fore-parents from their neighboring country on the same.... island of denial.

Oct. 08 2013 11:30 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I'd like to see what the UN says about it, since they always have something to say against Israel.

Oct. 08 2013 11:29 AM
antonio from baySide

@ Edward...
born there my friend. Raised in HK....

Oct. 08 2013 11:28 AM
arabyc from Brooklyn, NY

Unless it is condemned harshly and overturned swiftly for the racist legislation that it is, the stripping of Dominican citizenship to people born of non-Dominican parents could be replicated and will seriously damage the lives of migrants around the world.

Oct. 08 2013 11:28 AM
antonio from baySide

I wonder if Haiti was comprised of descendants of Nordics, would we still be having this conversation.

Oct. 08 2013 11:27 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Trujillo, brought in thousands of Europeans to "lighten up" the DR? Will their citizenship also be revoked?

Will "big pappy", Soriano, and other DR baseball players of possible "African-Haitian" heritage, be stripped of their DR citizenship? Probably not.

Oct. 08 2013 11:22 AM
Robert from NYC

Well Carlos, these are "invaders"? They don't speak the language? The usual bla bla bla. When those who say that about Dominicans in this country, they are called racists... and they are... and so are you Carlos.

Oct. 08 2013 11:19 AM
Jared from Brooklyn

Curious how many of these Haitians will now become stateless? Is D.R. signatory on international treaties against statelessness?

Oct. 08 2013 11:18 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

antonio from baySide said:

"It doesn't effect me because I was born in jersey and I don't subscribe to primitive tribal borders or groups."

Come on. Every New Yorker knows that jersey is a primitive tribe.

Oct. 08 2013 11:18 AM

ironic that the latino contingent in this country wants rights for illegal aliens and fight deportation of those who came here illegally, especially when american born off spring are involved, yet we have a latino country denying citizen to people who came to their country 50+ years ago, and 4 generations deep.

Oct. 08 2013 11:15 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

john from the john,

Is the Dominican Republic is an Apartheid State?

Oct. 08 2013 11:14 AM
Lamar from Bed-Stuy

What role does race play in this decision? Based on what friends tell me and what I read, I know from there is a long history of racism on the island.

Oct. 08 2013 11:13 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, Jews were kicked out of hundreds of countries, hence the need for a Jewish state. The Island of Hispaniola has been divided between the former black slaves, now called Haitians, and the descendents of Spaniards and "indians" and also former Africans.
The Haitians speak French; the Dominicans speak Spanish. I personally don't see the problem with Dominican republic sending its Haitian ethnics back to Haiti next door. But they should be compensated for this "transfer." They should be able to sell all of their properties, and take their money, and be compensated generously by the Dominicans. But otherwise, I don't see the problem. If the Nazis had only deported the Jews to Palestine instead of killing them, I'd have had no problem with that.

Oct. 08 2013 11:12 AM
SJ from New Jersey

What happened to the ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from a few years ago which stated that the DR could not deny citizenship to Haitians born in the DR?

Oct. 08 2013 11:10 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

So John, do Haitians say death to the DR as they fire rockets into the DR?

Does this 5000 year old pure DR culture, need to be protected from Haitians with suicide belts?

Oct. 08 2013 11:09 AM
Jerry from UES

Well thanks Brian! Finally a show not dedicated to the plight of Israelis!

Oct. 08 2013 11:08 AM
john from office

Oy Vey Shelly, I am your favorite whipping boy.

Yes DR is not a paradise, but they don't want to sink further into the crap with an invasion of Haitians. Why don't the Haitians fix their own house?

Doris, I was using Israel as an example. If they opened their borders they would no longer be a Jewish state.

Oct. 08 2013 11:00 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Doris.

Oct. 08 2013 10:56 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Dominican Republic Continues Racist Treatment of Haitians, 75 Years After Massacre

Oct. 08 2013 10:51 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"the reason Dominicans leave is because of poverty and social unrest"

John, so, for that reason, Dominicans, like everyone else should be allowed to seek a better life for themselves and their family in a different country but not Haitians? I'm sure the DR is not their 1st choice.

So should Jews from Eastern Europe, living in Washington Heights, have complained about Washington Heights being "run over" by "uneducated" and "poor" Dominicans in the 70's/80's?

Should the Irish who lived in Washington Heights before, complained about Jews moving in, in the 40's/50's?

Dominican and Haitian culture, have always been intertwined, in fact - that's what makes both cultures stronger.

Oct. 08 2013 10:45 AM
Doris from NJ

@John - What in the world does this have to do with Israel? Sheldon is spot on. Dominicans recognize they are partly black, but only behind the ears. This is racist policy, pure and simple, from a country that does not want to acknowledge its African roots. They want to deny citizenship to children born in DR of Haitian parents, while taking advantage of all the cheap labor from Haitian immigrants. Haitian immigrants are the ones who do many of the construction and agricultural work. I am sure this cheap source of labor is what has led to the marginal progress in DR compared to Haiti.

Oct. 08 2013 10:26 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Is there a physical Wall that separates the Dominican Republic from Haiti?

Oct. 08 2013 10:19 AM
john from office

Shelly the reason Dominicans leave is because od poverty and social unrest. That situation is made worst by very poor and poorly educated Haitians comes over the border, since the 60's. Washington heights and other Domincans areas are proof of the Haitian invasion. They sure don't look like they are form MOCA or Santiago in el Cibao.

Oct. 08 2013 10:15 AM
John from office

Shelly Shelly Shelly, open the borders of Israel before you judge others. Oh no, we want to be a Jewish state not another arab majority nation in the middle east.

Shelly Israel does the same thing to maintain their culture, I guess Dominicans don't have the same right. "WE ARE ENTITLED" too SHELLY

Oct. 08 2013 09:59 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

So says the John the "white" Dominican.

Trujillo himself, was of Haitian decent. He, unfortunately - like many Dominicans, was afraid and embarrassed of his Afro-Haitian heritage and often bleached his skin, and oh - murdered Haitians.

"the Dominican republic is trying to maintain a european centic culture"? haha - high crime, 3rd world economy, corruption, butchered Spanish - it's pescado, not "picado." Someone forgot to tell that to the people who invented merengue - with all that rhythm - oh right - that was the Haitians.

The Haitian State is pathetic but give me a break. I love my Dominicans but the DR isn't Paris, if it were W. Heights and Corona wouldn't have been "invaded" by them.

Oct. 08 2013 09:47 AM
john from office

See the film or read the book, "IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES" about revolutionary sisters in the Trujillo era. the Dominican republic is trying to maintain a european centic culture and is under attack by an invasion from Haiti, a failed state. The cultural balance in the Dominican Republic has been thrown off by this invasion and threatens the stability of that nation. Yes most Dominicans are of mixed race, but they have a european outlook, not an african one.

Haiti is a failed state, why should the Dominican Republic absorb those masses?? It will only lead to another failed state.

Oct. 08 2013 08:15 AM

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