By SOPHIA ROTHMAN, age 12
By June 17, 2015, undocumented people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic were forced to register citizenship in the D.R. or face deportation to Haiti. Hundreds of thousands are predicted to face deportation, according to the Guardian, including many children born in the D.R.
Race relations have long been an issue on Hispaniola, the Caribbean island shared by the D.R. and Haiti, from times of slavery to the current day. In 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo sought to eliminate the darker-skinned people of Haitian descent. He ordered the deaths of an estimated 20,000 Haitians in an act of ethnic cleansing called the Parsley Massacre.
Critics of current events in the D.R. claim that the mass deportations are another example of ethnic cleansing. In September 2013, the nation decided that people born after 1929 could only be granted citizenship if they had at least one Dominican parent. Since many Dominicans were born under conditions of poverty without access to legal documentation, proving citizenship could be impossible.
This decision has made a huge impact on the Dominican Republic. Families with one Haitian parent fear that they will be separated, while others living there that have Haitian blood but no knowledge of Haiti or the language worry they may be deported. “Imagine if your wife was born here but faces deportation to a country she knows nothing about,” a Dominican man named Roberto told the New York Times. “She would be taken away, and our marriage and lives would be torn apart.”
It has also had a major impact on Haiti. Haitian Prime Minister Evans Paul told the Guardian that in one week, 14,000 people had already crossed into Haiti, many of them children and young adults, most without jobs or housing.
“It’s time to try and fix everything that needs fixing,” said Paul, “to improve relations between both countries.”
Ethnic Cleansing – the mass removal of a particular ethnic or racial group from a society