Dominican Churches seek changes to deportation policies
Recommendations and proposed solutions to the registration, repatriation of immigrants, and documentation of people born in Dominican territory to foreign parents
Shared by Social Services of Dominican Churches (SSID)
The influx of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic and the presence of a long-standing community of people of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic, which is to a large extent undocumented, has generated a number of concerns about human dignity and the impact on these populations in public life. There is a demand for a just and viable solutions in the framework of defending human rights and national sovereignty.
It is fair to acknowledge that families of immigrants and people born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents have made substantial contributions to the economy, society and culture of the Dominican Republic; at the same time they have suffered violations of their human and national rights.
In the latest government actions, efforts have been made to contribute to the search for solutions to the challenges presented by undocumented populations through the development of Regulation No. 631-11 issued on October 19, 2011 implementing the General Law on Migration No. 285.04; Decree No. 327-13 on the National Plan of Regularization of Foreigners in an irregular situation in the Dominican Republic issued on November 29, 2013; Law 169-14 developed on May 23, 2014 which established a special rule for people born in the country illegally who are registered in the Dominican Civil Registry on Naturalization.
However, to date, the Ministry of Interior and Police have reported that about 70,000 immigrants, i.e. 35% of the 200,000 who applied for documents to regularize their stay in the Dominican Republic, have qualified for the granting of immigration documents. This leaves a group of about 130,000 immigrants who would have to complete documentation for one residence, (equivalent to 12% of the total population of 524,632 immigrants in the Dominican Republic, 458,233 whom are of Haitian Origin according to the National Immigrant Survey, 2012 ENI).
Likewise, the Central Electoral Board has identified 60,089 people, including 41,133 Dominican-Haitians, who have reviewed the records of place; equal to 24% of the population of foreign origin and 20% of the Dominican-Haitian population, according to the National Immigrant Survey, ENI records 2012. This total of records is distributed as follows: 27,510 authorized, 25,378 transcripts, and 4,371 requiring more information.
Faced with this situation, the Social Services of Dominican Churches (SSID), an organization representing the various Protestant councils of the country and para-ecclesial institutions, requires compliance with the Constitution of the Dominican Republic specifically Article 18 on nationality, 19 on the naturalization and Articles 37-75 on the fundamental rights of all the people, in order to contribute to the solution of both difficulties faced by Haitian immigrants and Dominico-Haitians.
The SSID recognizes the sovereign rights of the Dominican State to develop and implement political and migration programs, and also calls on all Dominicans, state, public, private and civic institutions to join forces and seek alternative solutions to the challenges presented by communities of foreign migrants and Dominico-Haitians.
As such, the Social Services of Dominican Churches (SSID), after a consultation held on May 26, 2015 with the participation of various organizations and individuals representing various networks and religious, civic and academic organizations (Dominico-Haitian Studies Center—CEDH of SSID/INTEC, the Council of Christian Reformed Church in America, the Dominican Episcopal Church, the National Bureau of Migration and Refugees—MENAMIRD, the Dominican Center for Legal Advice and Service—CEDAIL, Social Services of Dominican Churches-SSID, and Manuel de Jesús Deandrés- independent consultant, and Lourdes F. Antuan—independent consultant), make the following suggestions and proposals:
In the final period of the National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE):
- Provide more human and material resources to the main centers for the registration of immigrants (including the improvement or renovation of biometric equipment and provision of increased police and/or military for the organization of the applicants, to enable them to achieve the greatest possible number of enrolled) in Santo Domingo, San Cristóbal, Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macoris, Santiago, Puerto Plata, Dajabón, Valverde and San Francisco de Macoris;
- Hire additional public notaries to certify document regularization;
- Strengthen the campaign of information and counseling for immigrants through various means of communication;
- Implement a special registration program for workers of construction companies, sugarcane, banana, coffee, tourism, domestic workers, among others, where there’s a large conglomeration of immigrants.
People born in the Dominican Republic:
- No repatriation of any person born in the Dominican Republic until a solution is found for this population.
- Implementation of special programs for individuals who are under-age, self-declared as Dominicans but with Haitian birth certificates, born in the Dominican territory of a foreign father and Dominican mother or a foreign mother and Dominican father, born in the Dominican Republic and under 18, over 65, disabled or seriously ill.
- Installation and/or improvement of laboratories for DNA relationship testing – to be used only in cases where the father is Dominican and mother is Haitian or mother is Dominican and father is Haitian.
In the span of Repatriation:
- Strict compliance with Article 69 of the Constitution of the Dominican Republic about the effective judicial tutelage and due process to all persons including foreign immigrants.
- Application of the “Protocol of Understanding on the Mechanisms of Repatriation between the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti, signed on November 2, 1999” (dealing specifically with: the time and date of deportation; respect to avoid the separation of nuclear families; repatriations carried out solely at border points of Jimaní/Malpasse, Dajabón/Ouanaminthe, Elias Pina/Bellader and Pedernales/Ansa-a-Pietri; recognition of the Dominican authorities of the right for migrants to retain their legal documents and copies of their repatriation order; communication beforehand with Haitian authorities of the lists of returnees; establishment of immigration checkpoints on the Dominican-Haitian border.)
- Installation of adequate retention centers for undocumented foreigners until compliance with due process of repatriation that meets humane conditions and adequate resources. This would include the formulation and execution of a campaign for work plans by the Dominican authorities on the defense and guarantee of human, migrant, and labor rights of foreign immigrants in Dominican Republic. Establishment of oversight on returnees and immigrants.
On national legislation and institutionalization:
- Application of Law 285-04 regarding migration and labor code law 16-92.
- Continuity of the registration process for deportees, which corresponds to 65% of the total population requesting regularization of documents, provided they meet the requirements stipulated by the Migration Law and the official documents required to obtain one of the categories of residence of the country and is in line with labor codes.
- Requirement of strict compliance with the hiring of foreign labor, especially Article 135 of the Labor Code, which requires that at least 80% has to be domestic labor and 20% foreign labor and articles on pensions, health, occupational hazard and technical training of the Social Security Law 87-01.
- Participation of state and public institutions in the institutionalization of immigrant labor contracts in construction.
- Support for the institutionalization and coordination of religious, civic and academic entities such as: the Dominican-Haitian Binational Summit of civic, religious, popular and academic organizations; Quisqueya Binational Business Council; National Summit of organizations relating to Dominican-Haitian relations, Dominican-Haitian Forum on Dominican-Haitian relations of cooperation and protection of rights of Haitian and Dominican-Haitian migrants.
- Promotion of monitoring and studies on foreign immigrants and people born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents.
- Accountability of the National Plan of Regularization of Foreigners.
Proposal for the Haitian Government:
- Exhortation that the Haitian authorities comply with human, national and migrant rights.
- That corresponding bodies of neighboring country must take responsibility providing necessary and timely documentation to those eligible citizens to complete their process of regularization.
- The Government and Haitian authorities must make a greater effort to provide better facilities to their nationals affected by the Regularization and Naturalization Plan in order to contribute to the largest number of affected so they can achieve to resolve their irregular situation in Republic.