Dear ICC supporters,
Many of you may be following the current controversy surrounding Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Given ICC's close relationship with both countries, we wanted to address the present circumstances. First, let us provide context to those who may be unfamiliar with the current events.
In 2013, a Dominican constitutional court moved to revoke citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic after 1929. The Dominican Republic has been a hub for Haitian migrants, many working in the sugar cane industry. Beginning primarily in the early twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have left Haiti for the Dominican Republic. For many Dominicans of Haitian descent, the Dominican Republic is all they've ever known; some of them have never been to Haiti and have no living relatives or connections in Haiti. Thisbecomes very problematic given that Haitian citizenship is dependent on at least one-parent being a natural-born Haitian citizen. The UN estimates that 210,000 residents of the Dominican Republic are now stateless.
Last year, in another court ruling, the Dominican Republic attempted to mitigate the effects of the 2013 ruling by instating a law allowing those who had previously been considered natural-born Dominican citizens to apply for naturalized citizenship, as long as their birth is officially documented and listed in the civil registry. However, according to the 2010 Dominican Republic census, 41 percent of all foreign-born Haitian residents live in rural areas, where their natural born children are much less likely to be entered into the civil registry or to be issued an official birth certificate.
The final deadline to register for naturalization passed early last week. According to official reports, more than 275,000 people had registered in two dozen offices across the country to establish residency status. However, there are roughly 250,000 others who did not come forward with documents and now risk deportation. The Dominican government has stressed that at this time they would not be making mass arrests, stating that it will be "a gradual process."
Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul and President Michel Martelly have voiced their support and solidarity to the population that will be repatriated to Haiti. Haitian officials are preparing for the influx of deportees. At least two repatriation centers have been opened on the border between the two countries to process the Haitians brought back from the Dominican Republic.
As of now, ICC's work in Haiti and the Dominican Republic has not been impacted. However, we recognize that as Dominican-Haitians and Haitian migrants are repatriated to Haiti it may impact our health work in Haiti, as the influx population will need access to health services. We continue to pray for both countries, as ICC is rooted in the health and well-being of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Our focus continues to be on the children in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in need of health and hope. We pray that through this process of deportation and repatriation, the needs of the children are respected and protected.
ICC USA staff