No Economic or International Value
What makes the retroactive law even more illogical is that it has absolutely no economic or international value. While the Dominican government recently stated that only 24,000 Dominicans of Haitian ancestry will be impacted, the truth is that the Dominican Republic instructed government employees to withhold proof of citizenship way before the new constitutional ruling was final, leaving Dominicans of Haitian ancestry in an economic and social limbo. Without proof of citizenship, a Dominican citizen is rendered virtually and completely immobile, without the ability to enroll in college, renew a passport, travel or access public services.
While a large number of Haitians coming to the D.R. have been low wage workers, recent advocacy efforts by the Reconoci.do’s #EsoNoSeHaceRD campaign, show second and third generation Dominicans of Haitian descent accomplishing important professional goals as lawyers, advocates, poets, artists and teachers who love the only country they have known — the Dominican Republic. These Dominicans are helping put the only patria they have ever known, on the map through their economic and professional success.
Is It More About Race?
Making racially motivated laws creates big diplomatic problems. Past President Trujillo’s friendly and well documented history with Hitler, his propaganda campaigns and ethnic cleansing of 30,000 Haitians during the 1930s along with the generations of presidents who promoted a culture of hate against blackness is enough for the international community to see this law as racially driven and people on the island and in Diaspora to feel like history is repeating itself. The implications of leaving tens of thousands of Dominicans citizens of Haitian ancestry in statelessness, is enough to raise the alarms of neighboring countries like the US which is home to 1.5 million Dominicans. It also raises the eyebrows of the United Nations and watchdogs like Amnesty International and Refugees International who have maintained a watchful eye on several human rights issues on the island such as the growing sex trafficking industry.
If the Dominican Republic wants to be taken seriously as Latin America grows, then it must begin leading a new and positive conversation on race or get left behind.