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.
"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.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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