Displaced in the D.R.
June 16, 2015 7:14 PM   Subscribe

The New York Times reports that the Dominican Republic will begin deporting thousands of undocumented migrant workers, most of them Haitian, later this week. The Washington Post provides historical context. In The Nation, Greg Grandin reports on the imminent event. Last week, he characterized the effort as "a vicious, anti-black pogrom.” In Harper’s, Rachel Nolan has a detailed letter from the Dominican Republic explaining the situation at length.
posted by Rustic Etruscan (15 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
"According to Rachel Nolan, writing in a recent excellent Harper’s essay (behind a firewall), the ruling applies “to all Dominicans with undocumented foreign parents, most of whom…have no family in Haiti, speak little or no Creole, and are not eligible for Haitian citizenship. The decision was retroactive, affecting anyone born in 1929 or later. Two hundred ten thousand people were suddenly stateless.”"

Ho-lee shit
posted by I-baLL at 7:46 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I-baLL

Not behind a paywall. It's the last link.
posted by durandal at 7:53 PM on June 16, 2015


Grandin says it's behind a "firewall" for some reason. The error is Grandin's, not I-BaLL's.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:55 PM on June 16, 2015


Shades of El Jefe.
posted by Floydd at 7:56 PM on June 16, 2015


From Harper's Letter From the Dominican Republic:
To protest Vargas Llosa’s equation of Dominicans with Nazis, a large crowd of nationalists gathered in Santiago, the country’s second-biggest city, where they stomped on a copy of The Feast of the Goat — his 2000 novel about the assassination of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo — doused it with gasoline from a plastic water bottle, and set it on fire.
This was a protest about being compared to Nazis? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:14 PM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


The Harpers article was really disturbing when I read it the other week. The amount of sheer determination and effort it takes to be this awful to people is simply amazing.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:56 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


When my grandmother went into the hospital, the wife of one of our family friends got fixated on lecturing us on how terrible black nurses were, how they stole and how my grandmother would die from their neglect unless she had all her black nurses replaced. It left us kind of nonplussed, seeings as how this woman (also a nurse) has a skin tone right around Michael Jordan's, and kept claiming that you could tell black nurses were bad by just looking at them. I didn't realize that Dominican society drew these distinctions — it just felt like hanging out with Chapelle's klansman.
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 AM on June 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is really troubling; pretty much nobody other than some reporters is treating this as a massive human rights violation. The idea that a ruling can strip people of their citizenship en masse should send chills down the spine of anyone with half a brain. We aren't talking about immigrants into the DR with no papers, but their children who had been unquestioned citizens up until 2013 and are now forced through a bureaucratic "naturalization" process in the country they grew up in, and now face deportation to a country they have never seen and whose languages they do not speak.

It should be frightening for people in the United States, because as awful as it is, I could see it being a trial run for targeting the children of the undocumented here. The right has made rumblings already against birthright citizenship, and as much as that seems totally insane, the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read these articles about the Dominican Republic makes me think it could happen here as well.

And how this has gone on for two years with virtually no human rights attention until now, which seems like the 11th hour, is mind boggling. This quote in the Harpers article:
But many in the D.R. lashed out, saying that international criticism amounted to a violation of national sovereignty; the Dominican Republic could do whatever it liked with its Haitians and their children.
is again, just chilling. The idea that "sovereignty" trumps basic human rights, and particularly birthright citizenship being thrown out, seems to me to suggest a gobsmacking level of racist ideology.
posted by graymouser at 3:13 AM on June 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


It left us kind of nonplussed, seeings as how this woman (also a nurse) has a skin tone right around Michael Jordan's, and kept claiming that you could tell black nurses were bad by just looking at them.

That seems curiously relevant to this link from Brandon Blatcher's current FPP.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:24 AM on June 17, 2015


klangklangston: I didn't realize that Dominican society drew these distinctions — it just felt like hanging out with Chapelle's klansman.

I used to work with a Dominican woman who told me that people in her country tended to be highly religious/superstitious and that it was a commonly-held belief that Haiti was forever damned by dealing with the devil in voodoo.

If you have a high number of the DR population believing that the neighboring country is full of heathens getting their just desserts, it explains the attitude you saw on display.
posted by dr_dank at 4:54 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is really troubling; pretty much nobody other than some reporters is treating this as a massive human rights violation. The idea that a ruling can strip people of their citizenship en masse should send chills down the spine of anyone with half a brain. We aren't talking about immigrants into the DR with no papers, but their children who had been unquestioned citizens up until 2013 and are now forced through a bureaucratic "naturalization" process in the country they grew up in, and now face deportation to a country they have never seen and whose languages they do not speak.

Agreed. I think the Harper's piece best describes the magnitude of the problem. The emphases are my own:
An optimist might hope that what began as a Dominican court’s massive experiment in denationalization might end in the Dominican government’s massive experiment in naturalization. But difficulties immediately became clear. Even the lucky group of 24,000 afectados with birth certificates had to obtain their I.D. cards from the Junta Central Electoral, the same body that had been denying such papers for years. The protest group reconoci.do has documented at least 150 instances in which afectados in this group were illegally denied papers. The day that I met Deguis, she had been turned down and told she needed to apply at a different office. Deguis finally got her I.D. card on August 1 of last year. For the first time in six years, she could work legally. She received a passport a few weeks later, but it is still not clear whether she will be able to register her four children as citizens.

Obstacles for the nearly 186,000 afectados without birth certificates are even more formidable. Any applicant for naturalization, whether afectado or Haitian, must present documents proving their length of stay in the D.R. and “ties” to Dominican society. Among the possibilities are a deed to a house, a letter from a schoolteacher, a note from a boss, or a notarized memo of good conduct from seven Dominican neighbors. Unaccompanied minors also need death certificates for their parents. Every Haitian document requires a notarized translation into Spanish. All of the correct papers must be presented at one of thirty-one designated offices, none of which are in bateyes, the isolated company towns in which many Haitians live. No funds are provided to transport applicants. Most of the applicants are poor, and many are illiterate. The plan, one NGO director wrote me, was a “Kafka–Orwellian jamboree.”
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:09 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


> This is really troubling; pretty much nobody other than some reporters is treating this as a massive human rights violation. The idea that a ruling can strip people of their citizenship en masse should send chills down the spine of anyone with half a brain.

This is exactly what happened in Greece and Turkey in 1923; millions of people were dumped in a country they'd never seen and whose language they did not speak simply because for reasons of historic religious/national animosity they were no longer considered citizens of the country where they'd spent their lives (as had their ancestors for generations). Nobody other than those affected gave a shit then, either. National sovereignty trumps human rights any day.

Thanks for the post; I'd been wanting to read more about this awful situation.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I concur with languagehat; thanks for posting. Very important and disturbing issue that is getting too little attention.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:00 AM on June 17, 2015


... because as awful as it is, I could see it being a trial run for targeting the children of the undocumented here.

Yes, and I fear it will turn out just like the 'trial run' for Arthur Laffer's economic theories currently being conducted in Kansas, that is to say, horrifying but illustrative. From the NYTimes link, above:

Others have raised questions about the impact on the Dominican economy. For generations, Haitians have assumed the jobs that many Dominicans do not want, filling a vital part of the labor market, often at below-market rates.

If the DR wants to peer into the crystal ball, they can look at how similar measures turned out with Alabama's HB56.
posted by eclectist at 9:07 AM on June 17, 2015




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