Friday, January 19, 2018

Ambassador: Not all are granted Dominican citizenship

 Unlike the United States, the Dominican Republic does not grant citizenship to all those born within its jurisdiction.

This was stated by Anibal De Castro,  Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in Washington, in a statement posted on the Express website yesterday in response to a column entitled “The Dirty Business of Cleansing” by Dr Sheila Rampersad.

In fact, De Castro said the United States is one of the few nations that maintains this practice.

Following is the text of De Castro’s statement:

“Unlike the United States, the Dominican Republic does not grant citizenship to all those born within its jurisdiction. In fact, the United States is one of the few nations that maintains this practice. In most countries, it is the norm that citizenship be obtained by origin or conferred under certain conditions. Since 1929, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic has established that the children of people in transit, a temporary legal status, are not eligible for Dominican citizenship. 

The article you published does not mention that this principle was confirmed in 2005 by our Supreme Court and subsequently ratified in a constitutional reform in 2010. The Constitutional Court confirms previous interpretations of other courts and pursues its implementation with the relevant authorities, in order to establish a coherent immigration policy. 

Like other nations with a significant immigrant population, the Dominican Republic has a legitimate interest in regulating immigration and having clear rules for acquisition of citizenship. This does not only ensure the internal stability of the country, but it also ensures adequate protection of its immigrants. The Dominican Republic should not be pressured by outside actors and other countries to implement measures contrary to its own Constitution and that would be unacceptable to most other nations facing similar immigration pressures. 

The Dominican government recognises its obligations to the international community and the plight of the children of illegal Haitian migrants born in the country who lack identity documents. 

This does not, however, render them stateless. As your article says, Haiti’s Constitution bestows citizenship on any person born of Haitian parents anywhere in the world. This means that a person born to foreign parents in Haiti, is not eligible for Haitian citizenship. 

Also, the Haitian State has the obligation to document their nationals, regardless of their place of birth. Our country cannot bear the responsibility for the consequences due to the difficulty Haiti has in documenting its citizens. Even so, the Dominican Republic has carried out efforts to support Haitian authorities in the regulation of civil registration, including free access to Dominican institutions to facilitate their labour. 

Your article argues that there has been discrimination against Haitian immigrants as far as granting nationality is concerned. If in fact there are inconsistent actions, they are the result of the struggle that the Dominican Republic has faced for decades to successfully implement its immigration policy, the same that has affected your very own immigration policies. 

It should be noted, moreover, that those born to at least one parent who is a legal Dominican resident is in fact a Dominican citizen.

Therefore, the number of people who do not qualify for Dominican nationality has been grossly exaggerated. A key component of the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling was a mandate to provide people affected with temporary residence permits until a regularisation plan is in place. 

These allow them to remain and work in the country and will provide ways to obtain nationality or residence, according to individual factors. 

Each case will be carefully examined and subject to judicial due process. Speculation about mass deportations that I have heard is therefore baseless. 

The Dominican Republic and Haiti may have a fractious history. Recent events, including the solidarity shown by Dominican society after the earthquake of 2010, have shown, however, that for the most part the countries are looking to the future, engaged in the hard task of finding joint solutions to common challenges.”