Seven Easy Steps to Ethnic Cleansing in the Dominican Republic

The transformation of birthright citizens into illegal immigrants isn’t that difficult. The strategy is actually simple, if the steps are taken in the correct sequence.

Thousands of Dominicans have been dreading this day: from June 17, they fear that they can now be expelled from their homeland, exiled to a foreign country that many of them have never been to. There, they will likely be stranded, stateless—unless they manage to sneak back across the border to live as undocumented immigrants in their own country. It’s a bleak prospect, with little hope of resolution.

But some of their countrymen will celebrate. Some, with their minds diseased by fetishism of ethnic purity, have spent years preparing for this day, engineering an ethnic cleansing exercise decked out in legal obfuscation.

What will be reported in the press? The deportation of Haitian migrants, that’s all. Just illegal immigrants. Why, doesn’t the United States and the members of the European Union, do the same, every day?

The transformation of birthright citizens into illegal immigrants isn’t that difficult. The strategy is actually simple, if the steps are taken in the correct sequence. Let us review what the Dominican Republic has done—a virtual recipe for any other country aspiring to an ethnic cleansing exercise done according to proper legal procedure.

  1. Start with unofficial discrimination in access to birth certificates. You ignore constitutional provisions that grant citizenship on the basis of place of birth. Throw up practical and administrative obstacles for parents; insist that mothers present Dominican citizenship documents in order to register their children, although this violates both the principle of conveying citizenship on the basis of place of birth and the right of Dominican father to pass citizenship to their children. Thus, ensure that most of the target population has no official recognition that they were actually born in the DR.
  2. Change the constitution. Get rid of citizenship based on place of birth, make it dependent on parents’ nationality. Lots of respectable countries have this provision, and you can dampen down dissent, make this appear a minor change, by including a provision that anyone already ‘enjoying’ citizenship at the time of the change will continue to be a citizen. Include provisions that create a new constitutional tribunal to interpret the constitution.
  3. A bold move, best undertaken swiftly: have the constitutional tribunal interpret the constitutional change to be retroactive—for 75 year or so. No, actually, it was the previous constitution that was misinterpreted for all that time—it didn’t ever mean what it said. Well, whichever it is, it comes to the same thing. The Dominican state itself was confused. You know, mistakes happen.

    But reassure everyone that this is not denationalization, since those affected were never citizens in the first place. Remember, mistakes happen, and thank goodness for a constitutional tribunal that can right 75 years’ worth of confusion. Besides, the people affected surely have another citizenship that matches the color of their skin. There: neither denationalization nor statelessness. It’s not so bad.

  4. All this notwithstanding, step 3 is sure to attract attention internationally, so step 4 is for the executive branch to smooth ruffled feathers by expressing concern at the constitutional court decision and swear its dedication simultaneously both to human rights and to the separation of powers, and claim that it will find a legislative fix for the judicial move that will make sure nobody suffers any inconvenience.
  5. Eight months after the constitutional court judgment, have the executive branch introduce, and the legislature unanimously pass, some elaborate legislation that divides the affected population into two groups, based on whether their births were officially registered or not, and gives those with birth certificates the right to have them ‘validated’ (although they were improperly given out) and get citizenship, while making those without birth certificates register themselves as foreigners, thereby gaining legal residence and the potential to maybe become naturalized citizens one day through a procedure not set out the legislation.

Remember the very first step? That unofficial, discriminatory, but systematic denial of birth certificates is really handy now, since arguably you are doing people a big favor by giving them any rights at all when they don’t have official proof they were born in the country. The transformation of the group from birthright citizens to deportable aliens is almost complete.

Some international human rights court may try to throw a wrench in the works by pointing out that the whole production (original policy denying birth certificates, constitutional judgment, legislation) violates international human rights law and your treaty obligations. But you can use the constitutional tribunal to strike back and find (within ten days of international court action) that that international court doesn’t have any jurisdiction over you—accepting its jurisdiction wasn’t done properly (although you were putatively a member for a couple of decades). The Dominican state was rather butter-fingered throughout much of the 20th century, we’ve already established that. Now we’re setting things to rights.

But first:

  1. Pretend to try to implement the legislation, by setting up a few offices (many too few, much too late) around the country to process individuals’ registrations of themselves as foreigners. This move is essential to legitimize the legislation, which was key to neutralizing concern at—remember?—the constitutional court’s unconstitutional judgment, which is important for stifling international concern. If you are a really skilled player you can even get richer countries to help pay for the process of registering your citizens, previously denied their birth certificates, as foreigners. And get them to refrain from criticism on the grounds that the process set out by the legislation needs time to work.
  2. The final step is, when the deadline for registration of ‘foreigners’ expires, start deporting the unregistered ones. It’s not pretty, but if you’ve followed the instructions, you have plenty of legal cover. Your birthright citizens are now just undocumented migrants—fair game. And it only took a decade or so.

Now, boys and girls, go try this at home.

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Absolutely terrible and horrifying. Over 200,000 plus families are effected by this. How can the Dominican govt get away with this? Why isn't the UN or US involved?

cause its not true..simple as that

They're all lies? WHY? Because you say so? Raggeddy Trujillito.

I feel embarrassed for all this inhuman process carried out by power elites and the Dominican government.

Stop with these lies, lets start off with Those which you mention here are Not Dominicans...THEY ARE HAITIANS...their Haitian Constitution explains it very clearly. #2 The Dominican Republic 2 years ago started allowing all ilegal Haitians in Dominican Territory to regulate themselves so they can have legal status ...all for free (25 million USD) is being spent from Dominican Tax payers money...This is something the U.S. has never done. #3 since the devastating earthquake in Haiti (2010) till todays date....All Dominican Hospitals are free of Charge for All Haitians only!! ....Why dont you post what the Haitian Embassy is doing to its citizens? Where the Venezuelan goverment in conjuction with the Eurozone has made a donation of almost 40 million U.S.D so The Haitian Goverment gives it ppl at least a Birth Certificate (One of the requirements to regulate you status anywhere in the globe) and its goverment decided to close the Haitian embassy in Dominican Republic after the anouncement was done that it would be done for FREE by Dominican Goverment....Why dont you post that after We Dominicans Voted Yes to Help all ilegal Haitians ....Its Goverment Raised all of its prices to gain a Birth Certificate or a Passport which was suppose to be free to 60 USD and a passport to 100 USD...Basically Whats is goverment did was steal the donations and still milk its ppl . The only enemy the Haitian ppl have is its goverment and its own ppl....Haitians in Dominican Republic Have the same Human Rights as any Dominican...The walk the streets and work as the Common Dominican...I live between and do business in Miami (Little Haiti to be Exact) and the Dominican Republic. I speak the Truth ....Im tired of seeing how these ppl that post lies like this one which is Obviously sponsored by some NPO by using some other country misery like Haiti as an A.T.M requesting Donations...While the common Haitian doesnt ever see not even 50 cents of every 100 USD donated.

The only thing you actually point out as a lie is the author's decision to call these Dominicans "Dominican" instead of "Haitian" as you'd prefer. Your preference not withstanding, many of these people ARE Dominican for ALL intents & purposes. If legislation that is passed targets ppl who immigrated after 1929 or born after 1929, that's extremely broad. That's not targeting ppl who came after the earthquake or some 90's upheaval. That families who have generations and generations worth of life in DR. If you're born in America today, you're American, no matter if your people immigrated just yesterday, let alone in 1929... and how dare anyone come behind you and assert otherwise based on where your parents were born. Yet you feel quite comfortable assigning this entire group who stands to be deported as non-Dominicans. That in itself shows your biased perspective. Sure, the media should do a better job of highlighting a great many ills this world faces, and it fails us time and again. But this is an ill the media is currently reporting on and it deserves just as much attention and is just as valid & pertinent as the other things you mentioned... More So... how you can assert that "Haitians" share the same human rights as Dominicans when a.) even you don't acknowledge their citizenship b.) they risk deportation by legislation the government passed targeted at getting rid of them makes your assertion laughable.

In Germany until the constitutional reform of 2000 there were 3 generations of people born in Germany who were not germans. That means that first the Great grandfather came to germany and then the grandparents were born there, then the parents and finally the children were born there. It seems to me that your stance is very arrogant in assuming that because the US grants citizenship based on the fact that you were born within its territory, all other countries should follow. The US is a country founded by immigrants (irony they don't want immigrants now) and its special circumstances cannot be extrapolated to the rest of the world.

Thanks for the comment. Granting citizenship by birth is the norm across the Americas...where most of the current population were originally immigrants, as in the U.S. Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative.

I would like to know, what do you legally refer to as "the norm" in the Americas. As far as I am aware, each country decides whether to apply "jus solis" or "sangui", or is this some kind of extraterritoriality neo-colonialism push, that WE need to follow the US. If the author based its premise on this, it is a gross lack of legal knowledge or she is metabolising her own first world righteousness, as well as advancing her own agenda.
The right to citizenship in the DR was voted on two referendums in 1929, which established the ways an immigrant can obtain Dominican citizenship. Seems pretentious that now, we have to bulldozer and violate our own laws in order to accommodate illegal immigrants.

Thats not the norm across the americas, the bahamas does not have that norm, colombia does not have that norm.

There is misinformation about the Haitian reality in The Dom. Rep. Many NGOs have tried to demonize the Dominican government, regardless of the share of responsibility of the Haitian government, which aims to be the Dominicans to solve the Haitian problem. No government been more united than the Dominican, however, the response was an assassination attempt against former President Leonel Fernandez. Pregnant women go to hospitals on the border between the two countries to have their babies there, do free. I understand that those born in the country are Dominicans, but as proving that they are, if they have no documents, most do not speak Spanish. The Dominican government has every right to implement immigration policy.
What the government of the United States does with the children of the border or the hundreds of people who come across the border ?. The legalize or deport ?.

Thanks for the comment. There are two groups affected by the current crisis - Haitian migrants who are now facing deportation if they don't have the right papers, and Dominicans of Haitian descent - who risk being deported "by mistake". The second group of people were born in the DR, often of parents born in the DR. Dominicans of Haitian descent have been historically denied nationality papers, although being citizens by constitutional right (until the constitution was retroactively reinterpreted, which is another breach of Dominican and international law). The Dominican Republic has the right to enforce immigration policy, provided it does so according to national and international human rights law: it doesn't have a "right" to strip nationality from its own birthright citizens (as underlined in rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights). Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

The problem with your legal analysis is that under Dominican Constitutional Law they've never had that constitutional right. The ones who got "papers" were mostly obtained thru fraud. What country in the world recognizes any legal rights based on a fraud???

I am afraid this is not accurate. To quote a helpful briefing from RFK Human Rights:

Until 2010, all those born in the Dominican Republic – unless their parents were diplomats or in transit – received Dominican citizenship. The constitution was amended in 2010 to additionally exclude all those born to undocumented migrants from automatically obtaining citizenship. In September 2013 a Constitutional Court ruling (TC-168-13) retroactively deprived over 200,000 Dominicans born in the Dominican Republic to undocumented migrants between 1929 and 2010 of their citizenship, primarily affecting descendants of Haitian migrant workers, most of whom have never left the Dominican Republic and who are not Haitian nationals.

Read more here:

Thanks, Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

That is the interpretation of the Kennedy Center done under the microscope of Common Law which does not apply to a country under the French Legal system. In 1929 there 2 constitutional reforms done; one in March and the other in June. These constitutional reforms were done by referendum meaning all eligible citizens cast their votes approving those reforms. The only reason for calling the equivalent of a General Election was that legal scholars pointed out that migration workers (most of them cocolos (citizens of the lesser antilles)) under the March constitution would have the right to declare their offspring as Dominicans. So the constitution was reformed again and the legal solution was to declare migrant workers as in transit since they were not supposed to evade the law and return to their country of origin. Also under Roman Law which is the predecessor for the French Legal system no rights can be derived from an illegal act. Under article 3 of our civil code all foreigners must receive the approval of the executive branch (Immigration office). If you do not obtain said approval you are presumed to be in transit.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights also found that the DR had to change its constitution in order to conform to its interpretation of International Law which goes against every principle of International Public Law and Kelsen's pure theory of law which is regarded as a standard.

I modified your argument and changed Haitains to Dominicans and Dominican Republic the the United States of America to reflect YOUR UTTER STUPIDITIY:

There is misinformation about the Dominican reality in USA. Many NGOs have tried to demonize the US government, regardless of the share of responsibility of the Dominican government, which aims to be the Americans to solve the Dominican problem. No government been more united than the USA, however, the response was an assassination attempt against former President WTF. Pregnant Dominican women go to hospitals in the USA to have their babies there, do free. I understand that those born in the USA are US citizens, but as proving that they are, if they have no documents, most do not speak English. The United States of America government has every right to implement immigration policy.

Excuse me, but this is extremely ridiculus! US deports dominicans whenever they consider... And our goverment doesn't reply... Please!!

Against xenophobia and racism in DR.

In reference to Eugene's comment, the fact is that the disputed group were born in Dr and have the right "to acquire" DR citizenship. This has never been disputed, except briefly and ineffectively in theYean & Bosico (2005) case when the gov't tried to subsume the disputed group under the rule applicable to visiting dignitaries. The Court dismissed that absurdity and proceeded to find against DR for obstructing the the right to citizenship (hence: equal protection, due process and other provisions of the ACHR). The court cited reports by the the Human Rights Committee and the UN Children's Rights Committee, and a handful of other documents indicating notification and non-compliance by DR. The 2014 Case of Expelled Dominicans and Haitians continues to document the backlash and obstructionist policies of the state.

You assert the U.S. has done nothing; but in a case similar to Yean and Bosico, Plyer v Doe (1982), the Supreme Court found a Texas municipality in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by denying tax-funded education to children of illegal immigrants regardless of birthplace regardless of their place of birth. It's an ongoing issue, but you can stow the tu quoque ad hominem.

Haiti has the right to survive as the only black American country That is a pride we all appreciate !!!

But Also Dominican Republic have the right to continue to grow as the only country in the world multicolor Because we are not white or black race.

We are a mixture of African and European culture THEREFORE Also We have the right and we are very proud of our heritage culture .

The people who are at risk of deportation are Dominican in every way that generations resulting from a European immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1930 & lived, worked, & raised a family here are American. This legislation serves to deport people who arrived in DR from Haiti anytime after 1929. That's almost 100 years living in DR and less than 100 years since Haitian led revolutionaries freed Santa Domingo from slavery. The Dominican Republic has a history, a violent & bloody one, regarding efforts to rid itself of the people whom it shares an island. ( see The Parsley Massacre) Like most countries that are the result of Western colonialism, DR has some serious race issues. Many Dominicans don't even like to acknowledge their African history.

The legislation mentions 1929 because of final border treaty signed by both countries that year, wich also included a modification to the Dominican Constitution regarding immigration policy. The current law reaffirms and ratifies the 1929 constitution and its immigration policy. Some in the international community have selectively chosen to refer to this as a retroactive law when its really not.

Furthermore, its unfair to judge a whole country by the actions of a dictator who is exclusively responsible, not the people. Also, it is a true shame that some Haitians and confused people who stand behind them, have limited memory and can only go as far back as 1937 Parsley Massacre. If you want to talk about history it is only fair to mention The Moca Beheadings aka The Hispaniola Holocaust; where thousands of Dominicans died by the hands of Haitian invaders. Those invasions were one-sided, 1844, 1845, 1849, 1855, 1856, but some scholars say it was at least 17 invasions and 11 battles. None were on Haitian soil, which prevented civilian deaths on their side, but the same can not be said about the Dominican side.

Thanks. There are indeed parallels between the situation in the D.R. and the Bahamas, which is why the UNHCR and other groups that work on statelessness are calling for policy changes there too. See this article, for instance:

Jonathan Birchall, Communications Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative

The Haitian first lady was not born in Haiti and after 40 something years went back to the Haitian authorities and her citizenship. Under Haiti's law any children whose parents are haitians are automatically granted citizenship. Where is the statelessness??? In the Bahamas case, their authorities and the US are applying that legal principle.

The UNHCR, which is tasked with combating statelessness globally, said in December 2013:

"UNHCR urges the Dominican Republic to rapidly take steps to restore the nationality of individuals affected by a ruling of the Constitutional Court, which deprives tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality, rendering them stateless."

The exact same situation is happening to Haitians born in the Bahamas and the Bahamian authorities and the US government as well as the DR do not consider them stateless.

I would like to know, if you were kidding when you said "since Haitian led revolutionaries freed Santa Domingo from slavery"?
That episode was not a liberation , it was very cruel invasion and ruthless that enslaved the Dominicans. Because that Dominican of all races and colors fought against the occupation in which the Haitian army killed , tortured , raped and enslaved women and children . Look at Google the massacres of Moca and Santiago

I came back from a year there and you're absolutely right. Most of the comments I heard were about color or Haitians having to go back to Africa..seriously?? .. I thought it was about the constitution not at all..
Read the comments on any social media about this crisis.. (e.g. por la soberanía dominicana on facebook)
It's all racist comments and very violent ones.
I'm sorry to say.. Everything in this article is TRUE!!


Can we all get along?

Its pathetic. In life we have to be our brother's and sister's keeper.God almighty will take control of their situations.,

The US should oppose this illegal legislation.

The rest of the world opposes US executions. The US refuses to sign a UN treaty that would hold soldiers responsible for crimes committed by them.

What you are describing in your statement I see it happening in this great Nation every day. Thousands of undocumented residents with USA Cutizen children are being deported as well.

Very interesting reading of the article and the comments, thank you for bringing it out! Instead of the world of different cultures coming together, it seems this is the attempt of dividing different "breeds." Now, try to envision the following from an outsider: A person BORN in the former Soviet Union, suburb of Moscow (where Mr. Putin now rules for those who are unaware), has no Russian blood line; instead, the person is a mixture of Dutch-Austrian descent on father side and British-Polish on mother side, and is also 75% Jewish. The person emigrates out of the Soviet Union BEFORE it collapses and makes United States home. Now, in 2015 the person is stateless in the US, where there is NO LAW to adjust status for stateless persons. Welcome to the Western Hemisphere! All thought that the Soviet Union was a good country to be out off. Dear Haitians, I guess, not only your place of birth, but also your blood line must be perfect to qualify your "breed" for a good survival status, notwithstanding the fact that you are not Dogs. Hitler would have been proud of DR's efforts.

Two points 1) the broader conversation on blackness and xenophobia and 2) CARICOM as ineffective

It is a very serious pain when any human being in any part of the world mistreated based on his ethnic background. Thus, I am not happy and also strongly object the decision given by Dominic government concerning the Haitian

No to racial segregation we are in 2015

Racial segregation??? Having people live in their own country is racial segregation??? Is living in Haiti a damnation of the worst kind???

Me siento muy preocupada ya que en los demás países están divulgando informaciones que no son correctas por que por ejemplo, aquí en República Dominicana. no se esta deportando desordenadamente a los inmigrantes (haitiano o de cualquier otro país) se le facilito a los tantos inmigrantes que hay en este país (haitianos,chinos,alemanes,españoles et) de regularizar su situación en este país, fueron muchos los extranjeros sin distinción de nacionalidad que fueron regulados en este país, ahora bien si algún extranjero sin distinción no pudo o no quiso hacer su documentación necesaria no es problema de del país y han querido difamar la República Dominicana diciendo que quieren sacar los haitianos del país donde la regulación era para todos los extranjeros no solamente haitianos.

A horrible situation, and not surprising given the long bloody histories around the world that impact people of color. I see similar behavior going on in California and other states with regard to Law and equal protection.

Uuff this is plenty of blablabla in the DR we are 65% black, 30% mulathos (kid of black and white) 5% white, how you said we are racist, xenophogos etc, in my contri we don't have the jus solis (?) like the USA and in this hole continent only USA and some ingland islans have it and the law is clear but the people who make monies with this want to satanise my contri, with law or not many people are registered there and they live like that... Dominican but let me say something in the last few years thousands of Haitian cross the border within papel from they on side and now they claime to be Dominican to get citizen ship of Dominican, they attender to the Haitian ambassy in DR looking for documentation to get legal status in DR and they charge a lot of monies for that, if any body check the press going to see the people protesting for that because they said it was a abuse from they govertmen. I knowed that from the first moment when I watch the Haitian govertmen artitus and now they said oll that people that doesn't has documentation are Dominican and that is no true, help Haiti to develop by them self and grow because our democracis and little development cost as to many life and still we are a pool contri and we can't to place Haiti over our souther, we allow the prenan women to cross and have they bebes there,use for free the hospital, attending free to the school, work there and have they family there too. Now the Dominican oligarquia got the Haitian that they need and want to send the rest out but it is true we have not room for to many people !!!!

We can discuss it as much as we want but there will only be one word to qualify what's happening now INHUMAN. Third generation Dominicans have been stripped of their nationality, there is no immigration law in this. And this just what Dominicans do. We remember Trujillio's 1937 massacre to replace the Haitians then with white so they could whiten DR and he was supposedly of Haitian descent so... Wanting to be something you're not while thinking you're inferior can take human beings to some ugly places. It's a shame that some people are still at that point because the human race has evolved...

what will happen to the Dominican economy when all of those low wage earners are deported?

are Dominican workers ready to cut sugar cane or are Dominican business owners ready to pay 5-10 times as much to Dominican workers from house servants to construction workers?

anyone who relies on Haitian workers --which is in some ways most Dominicans-- in the DR should get ready for a big cost of living adjustment in the form of higher wagers.

Certainly the kind of thing we can expect from the Koch brothers and their GOP puppets as they maneuver to "purge" the country of the poor, the disabled, the blacks, Hispanics, liberals, gays and anyone else they don't like. One way the game is played is to change the rules in relation to people who are considered somehow bad or defective, because others won't fight as hard for their rights, but once you find ways to discriminate legally against one group, the door is open to discriminate against all. A lot of people don't realize that. We not only have to protect the rights of those being attacked by the right wingnuts because it is morally and ethically wrong but because to protect their rights protects the rights of us all in the long run.

Esto es pura basura y mentiras, la República Dominicana está aplicando políticas migratorias, como las aplica Haití, USA y todos los países del mundo. Lo que pasa es que hay un plan internacional de unificar las dos naciones, ya que Haití es una carga para USA y el mundo entero, es un estado fallido y no saben qué hacer con él. Los dominicanos no vamos a permitir que la miseria haitiana nos sea echada a nosotros, tenemos un millón de haitianos ilegales que es responsabilidad de la comunidad internacional y quieren tirárnoslo a nosotros. Jamás podrán doblegar a los dominicanos. Jamás!


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