Local August 22, 2012 | 12:11 pm

Jesuit priest repeats charge: Border town’s big business is smuggling

Dajabon, Dominican Republic. – The smuggling of persons across the Haiti-Dominican Republic border generates millions of dollars per year, among organizers, homeowners, transporters and official authorities.

The Jesuit priest Regino Martinez, who heads the charity group Border Solidarity, said that although the flow of undocumented migrants appears to be small, called it “consistent 24-7.”

He said human trafficking involves a “potea,” or the smuggler who organizes the trip across the Masacre river, in Dajabon’s case, the military intercepts at the border to charge their toll, safe houses, drivers of buses, truck and other vehicles, in addition to the road checkpoints, where guards must also be paid.

Martinez urged for legislation by the congresses of both countries, to create a legal framework for amnesty for those migrants who are documented.

In the Northwest, the prelate said, Border Solidarity has counted around 8,000 Haitian workers, establishing homes, workplace and based on some documents in their possession.

Martinez has repeatedly accused the authorities of doing little to halt the smuggling, while placing hurdles to the Jesuits’ efforts to organize the migrant farm workers in the region. "The Governments aren’t interested in conducting a census to establish how many migrants there are in the country, which we estimate ranges between one million and 1.5 million, both legal and illegal."

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