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US senators urge action in Dominican Republic ´citizenship crisis´: Boston Globe

Santo Domingo.- Several US senators on Thursday urged US Secretary ofState John Kerry to intercede in the “citizenship crisis” in the DominicanRepublic, on concern that thousands of people of Haitian descent born in theeastern two thirds of Hispaniola are still not recognized as citizens, BostonGlobe reports.

In a letter to Kerry the senators of the Democratic Party said theDominican government proposed a “fair solution” by creating a path tocitizenship after a 2013 court ruling stripped birthright citizenship from thechildren of unauthorized immigrants, mainly from neighboring Haiti. But, theletter said, less than a third of the 210,000 Dominicans eligible for thatcitizenship applied for it.

“Critics of the citizenship program have said the requirements are socumbersome that many cannot gather the hospital records and other documentsneeded to apply,” the outlet said.

“In this context, we respectfully ask that you work with the Dominicangovernment to ensure that the process is timely, efficient, and inclusive ofeveryone who was born in the country,” the senators wrote in the letter, addingthat it was crucial that undocumented citizens “are provided a solution thatguarantees their right to live in the only country they have known since theirbirth.”

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate ForeignRelations Committee, along with Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sherrod Brown(D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy(D-Vt.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), wrote Secretary of State John Kerry todayregarding the treatment of Dominican-born individuals of Haitian descent in theDominican Republic.

The letter:

August 13, 2015

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We write to express our concern about recent developments in theDominican Republic, which negatively impact, in overwhelming majority,Dominican-born individuals of Haitian descent.

As you know, in 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunalissued a controversial ruling that annulled the citizenship of anyone born inthe country after 1929 to parents who could not prove their citizenship. Whilethe Administration of President Medina has taken important steps to mitigatethe effects of the ruling, we remain concerned that the process does notencompass the full range of individuals with a legitimate right to remain inthe country.

According to the most recent national survey conducted in the DominicanRepublic, there are an estimated 210,000 Dominican-born persons of Haitiandescent residing in the country. Through its Regularization Plan and SpecialLaw 169-14, the Dominican government identified a group of approximately 55,000individuals who should receive full restoration of citizenship rights, as wellas an additional group of 8,700 persons who may be eligible for appropriatedocumentation. While authorities have proposed a fair solution for both ofthese groups, the fate of the rest of individuals documented to have been bornin the country remains uncertain.

In this context, we respectfully ask that you work with the Dominicangovernment to ensure that the process is timely, efficient, and inclusive ofeveryone who was born in the country. It is imperative that all individualsdocumented in the national survey and their children are provided a solutionthat guarantees their right to live in the only country they have known sincetheir birth. It is equally importantthat vulnerable populations receive appropriate protections so that they canfully access their rights as citizens.

Additionally, it is important to note that more than 36,000 individualsof Haitian descent voluntarily have left the Dominican Republic during the pastmonths. This action has overwhelmed Haitian authorities, who are not preparedto attend to such numbers. We are concerned that as individuals are comingacross the border, they are not being afforded appropriate screening andreintegration assistance.

In closing, we encourage you to continue your support for jointcooperation between the United States, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti sothat all cases are handled in a manner that is fair, transparent, andconsistent with international standards.


Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Edward J. Markey

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Patrick Leahy

Senator Christopher Coons

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