Dominican Immigration Crisis
Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent yell slogans during a protest in Santo Domingo, June 18, 2015. Reuters

The Dominican Republic’s government has renewed the citizenship of just 8,640 of the hundreds of thousands of Haitian immigrants who lost their legal status after a 2013 Dominican Supreme Court decision. More than 200,000 Haitian immigrants face forced deportation from the Dominican Republic, despite an outcry from the international community.

Approximately 45,000 undocumented immigrants registered with the Dominican Republic to have their citizenship reinstated. But limits to the government program have allowed just 8,640 applicants to receive licenses, Dominican newspaper Diario Libre reported, according to teleSur. Tens of thousands of others who were unwilling or unable to enter the program were in line to be deported.

The Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that any individuals who were born to parents who came to the country as undocumented immigrants would not necessarily receive citizenship. The decision applied to any individual born in the Dominican Republic since 1929. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, even those who had never set foot in Haiti, were stripped of their citizenship.

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Facing international pressure, including a United Nations condemnation, the Dominican Republic agreed to allow affected individuals to reapply for citizenship. But efforts to enact the citizenship program have been inefficient, leaving enormous portions of the country’s Haitian population without recourse.

Haiti issued a harsh criticism of the Dominican Republic’s policy earlier this month at a meeting of the Organization of American States, a group dedicated to improving regional diplomacy. “Haiti comes to the Americas to urge the Dominican Republic to come to its senses. Haiti does not come to ask for mercy, it comes to protest the treatment of its nationals in the Dominican Republic,” Haitian Foreign Minister Lener Renauld said in a statement.

The public rebuke infuriated Dominican officials, who have refused to engage in diplomatic negotiations on the citizenship program until Haiti apologizes. “It’s difficult to ask victims to apologize to their torturers,” Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul said Tuesday, according to teleSur.