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Dominican Republic to present bill to help Haitian descendants

Sunday, February 23, 2014 | 1:14 PM    

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WASHINGTON (CMC) – The Dominican Republic’s Ambassador to the United States, Aníbal de Castro, says President Danilo Medina will this week present a bill to Congress aimed at creating a legal pathway for those born to undocumented Haitians and other foreigners.

“It will provide for a path, a quick way to Dominican nationality to those people who can prove they were born in the Dominican Republic, that they have been living there all of their lives, that they have roots in the Dominican Republic,” de Castro told reporters here, stating that Medina will present the plan on Thursday during his “State of the Union” address.

“This solution will respect human rights and take a humanitarian approach,” he added.

Last year, the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic ruled that Dominicans of Haitian parentage, who were born in the country, would be stripped of Dominican citizenship.

International human rights groups, leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Haitians, and others, have called on the Dominican Republic to reverse the court ruling.

Critics say the September 23 decision, retroactive to 1929, leaves hundreds of thousands of individuals, the majority of them of Haitian descent, “stateless”.

They also say the ruling threatens to create a permanent under-class of people in the Dominican Republic.

De Castro said the proposed bill is a result of Medina’s promise to CARICOM leaders that he would “implement a clear and transparent migration policy” that would provide legal status to those affected, according to the Miami Herald.

The envoy rejected as unfair allegations that the Dominican Republic is a “racist country”.

In addition, de Castro said the government also plans to help others impacted by the ruling, including a no-deportation rule.

Last week, the Dominican Republic’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Organization of American States (OAS) signed an agreement that will lead to the issuing of documents to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic.

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