The Dominican Republic government opposes the US embassy’s warning to dark-skinned US tourists that intensified law enforcement against Haitian immigrants in the Caribbean country could lead to profiling racially or detain them.
Local media, according to the US Embassy in Santo Domingo, are reporting widespread operations by Dominican immigration officials aimed at detaining what they believe to be undocumented migrants, especially people of Haitian descent.
“These actions may lead to increased interaction with Dominican authorities, especially for darker-skinned US citizens,” the embassy reported. “There are reports that detainees are held in overcrowded detention centers without the possibility of challenging their detention and without access to food or sanitary facilities, sometimes for days, before being released or deported to Haiti.”
In a statement issued Sunday, Dominican authorities said they strongly rejected US criticism of the crackdown. They said a warning sent Saturday by the US embassy in the capital Santo Domingo is “manifestly unfounded and untimely.”
The message from the US embassy, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, contradicts “the excellent bilateral relationship” between the two countries.
“Our country is the first commercial partner of the United States in the Caribbean and the sixth in Latin America. We have been one of the United States’ most trusted allies in maintaining a free, open, prosperous, and secure international system for all nations,” the statement said.
Dominican authorities have come under heavy criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations and Haitians who have shared video footage of compatriots beaten by police since President Louis Abinader earlier this month issued a decree on the They called for mass deportations and the creation of a police unit to investigate foreigners who illegally occupy land in the country.
The decree was issued after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, called on November 10 to stop deportations to Haiti from neighboring countries, including the Dominican Republic, citing the humanitarian and human rights crisis that facing Haiti.
“I am concerned to see the forced repatriations of Haitians to Haiti from the Dominican Republic continue,” Turk said. “The incessant armed violence and the systematic violations of human rights in Haiti do not allow the safe and dignified return of Haitians to the country. I reiterate my call to all countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic, to stop the deportation of Haitians.”
Turk also called on the Dominican Republic authorities to redouble their efforts to prevent xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance based on national, racial or ethnic origin, or immigration status.
Although the United States criticized the crackdown on migrants, it did not call for a halt to deportations of Haitians.
The latest immigration raids are creating nothing new tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola. But these tensions can also create problems for African-Americans or other darker-skinned travelers to the Dominican Republic, popular for its all-inclusive resorts.
In July 2020, an eight-day getaway to the country for three neighboring South Florida brothers of Haitian descent turned into a vacation from hell after the brothers were detained. The men — Lonelson, John and Lovinsky Nalus — said they were set up with a four-pound package of marijuana planted in their rental car.
When the judicial hearings were canceled and the prosecutors did not appear, the brothers were trapped in the Dominican Republic. They received little support from the US government or Florida lawmakers. More than two years later, his case is still pending in the Dominican Republic, said Lonelson, who lost his job, while one of his brothers had his car repossessed and another lost a football scholarship due to his prolonged stay in the Dominican Republic. .
In its statement on Sunday, the Dominican Foreign Ministry said that the deportations of 43,900 Haitians between July and October of this year are not dissimilar to those of the Biden government.
Like all sovereign countries, including the United States, that repatriate foreigners, the Dominican Republic has been forced to deport a large number of Haitian migrants, the statement said.
“The Dominican Republic can’t take it anymore,” the Dominican Foreign Ministry said, adding that the same Biden administration that criticized it for the deportations deported more than 20,000 Haitians back to Haiti between February last year and February this year. .
The ministry said that the Abinader government has “repeatedly and systematically denounced before the international community the alarming situation in Haiti, aggravated since the assassination of the president.” [Jovenel] Moise”, which affects the national security of the Dominican Republic.
“Without the support of the international community, we have made an extraordinary effort to keep the border open and allow the Haitian population access to vital food, medicine, fuel, water, etc. Similarly, we have kept the flow of trade open, despite the number of kidnappings of Dominicans, including a diplomat from our embassy in Haiti,” the statement said.
“Our armed forces unilaterally assume the high cost of providing security to the entire border between the two countries, maintaining some 9,000 troops in that place.”
Source: El Nuevo Herald