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Dominican Republic Strips Citizenship From Children Of Migrants, Affects More Than 200,000 Haitians

Experts warn the court's decision could cause a human rights crisis, potentially leaving tens of thousands of people stateless, facing mass deportation and discrimination.

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In a sweeping court decision Friday, the Dominican Republic ruled to take away citizenship from the children of migrants, which could affect tens of thousands of people living in the country of Haitian descent.

According to the Associated Press, there are nearly 210,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent, who could become "effectively stateless."

The court ruling published Thursday applies to those born after 1929 – a category that overwhelmingly includes descendants of Haitians brought in to work on farms. It appears to affect even their grandchildren, said Wade McMullen, a New York-based attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. "We really don't know what's going to happen to those people ... Based on what the Dominican government is saying, these people are not Dominican citizens and will have to leave and effectively go to Haiti, where they are also not citizens. It creates an extremely complicated situation."

Dominicans and Haitians share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and have a long history of conflict and tense relations.


David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, told the AP the decision was part of a larger effort to keep Haitians from entering the Dominican Republic and to encourage self-deportation of those already here. "The fear of the Dominican Republic, of being pulled down to the level of Haiti economically and the `blackening' of the country, has been an obsession of Dominican politicians for well over a century," he said.

"To all of a sudden be told no, you're not Dominican, it's very frustrating," said Elmo Bida Joseph, a 21-year-old student who said he was denied his ID and birth certificate because he was born to Haitian parents.


"All my dreams have been broken," said Bida, a baseball player who needed those documents to enroll in a baseball academy and now worries he'll be deported.

"I feel that's around the corner. That in any moment I'll be detained and they'll send me to Haiti."

Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at

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