The Dominican Republic deported 1800 children to Haiti without their parents


Hundreds of children have been kicked out of the Dominican Republic without their parents, according to UNICEF, amid a major government push to remove suspected undocumented migrants from the country.

The United Nations children’s agency has received at least 1,800 unaccompanied children handed over by Dominican immigration authorities to Haiti since the start of the year, a spokesman told CNN on Monday.

Many arrive without identity documents and are “sent” into the country among adult deportees, the spokesman also said, raising the question of how Dominican authorities verified they belonged to Haiti.

An image provided to CNN by the Haitian aid organization Groupe d'Appui des Rapatriés et Réfugiés shows people deported from the Dominican Republic on November 17 near the Malpasse border crossing.  CNN blacked out parts of the image to preserve her privacy.

Back in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, immigration detention centers sometimes house fathers without children.

“A woman had a diaper bag with her, but not the baby. [Immigration agents] she had told her that she couldn’t take her baby with her and that they would take him on the bus, but then they didn’t take the baby on the bus,” said Yoana Kuzmova, a researcher at the Dominican migration policy think tank. d ‘Migration Observation and Social Development in the Caribbean.

The Dominican Republic has long been trying to reduce the Haitian population within its borders. But this year’s latest wave of deportations is occurring with stunning speed and breadth, prompting critics to accuse the Caribbean nation’s government of racial profiling, chaotic executions and disregard for human rights and families as immigration agents remove people from the country.

The US Embassy in the Dominican Republic has warned blacks and “darker-skinned Americans” that they are at risk of “increased interaction” with Dominican authorities amid an immigration crackdown. In a statement released Saturday, the embassy described “reports of unequal treatment” of American citizens based on skin color.

But the president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, has rejected calls to halt the deportations, arguing that the Dominican Republic already supports neighboring Haiti more than any other country in the world.

CNN has reached out to the Dominican Republic’s migration institute for comment.

In October alone, 14,801 people were sent to Haiti from the Dominican Republic, according to records from the Haitian aid organization Groupe d’Appui des Rapatriés et Réfugiés, an average of 477 people every day.

Social media videos that appear to show Dominican immigration authorities conducting raids have caused panic among Haitians and people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, with even some who are legal residents telling CNN they are afraid to leave the house

Haiti’s Communications Ministry on Sunday called on its neighbor to respect “human dignity” and cited the “shocking images … that have drawn attention to the inhumane and degrading treatment inflicted on Haitian citizens in the Dominican Republic “.

The immigration net has swept up some people regardless of their nationality or legal status, according to former detainees and experts interviewed by CNN, as well as the statement from the US Embassy.

A Haitian, who lives and works legally in the Dominican Republic, told CNN that immigration agents broke into his home in the middle of the night and refused to listen to his arguments.

“I was sleeping at my house with my family. At 3am (local time), a group of immigration agents broke down my door and detained me. They didn’t ask for my papers or anything; no they let me talk,” says a man of Haitian origin, whose legal work permit was in the process of being renewed when he was arrested.

“They just grabbed me and took me away; I told them I had papers and they didn’t even listen,” he added.

He was held overnight in miserable conditions before being released the next day.

The video he filmed secretly and shared with CNN showed a concrete building with narrow stalls piled high with food and blackened with waste, and a cramped room without beds, where at least 15 other detainees waited.

“They treat them like animals. Once they are put in prison, they are left there to sleep on the floor without feeding them. They destroyed people’s documents and in some cases people didn’t get a chance to show their papers,” said Sam Guillaume, GARR spokesman.

He added that his organization has received several Dominican citizens in Haiti who were mistakenly detained and deported.

The Dominican Republic’s effort to remove people of Haitian origin from the country goes back years.

In 2013, the country’s constitutional court controversially ruled that Dominicans born in the country to undocumented parents should be stripped of their citizenship, rendering tens of thousands of people stateless, with no other country to turn to. be called

Known colloquially as “La Sentencia” or the Sentence, “it created a statelessness situation of a magnitude never before seen in the Americas,” according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Many Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic rely on short-term residence permits to remain legally in the country through a “regularization plan.” But Kuzmova, the legal researcher, says she hears “over and over again” that they are at risk of deportation while waiting to renew those permits.

“When it comes to Haitian immigrants, the residence permit is valid for one year and it takes a year to renew it. So the reality is that if that person who is entitled to a permit is picked up on the street, they won’t have a valid document,” he says.

“What people say is that when they pick you up with an expired card, they destroy it. And that was basically the proof you had to be in the regularization plan.”

A new presidential decree, issued last week to create a specialized law enforcement unit to combat the occupation, could also be used to target people of Haitian descent living in the historic sugar plantation villages known as baptizewhich once attracted a large number of migrant workers.

“The people who live there now are mostly retired old people who used to work on the plantations and they don’t have the title. So this could be another way to instrumentalize the police to enforce deportations,” says Kuzmova.

As Haiti struggles to recover from interrelated political and security crises, the UN has repeatedly called on the Dominican Republic to stop sending people there.

“Relentless armed violence and systematic human rights violations in Haiti currently prevent the safe, dignified and sustainable return of Haitians to the country. I reiterate my call to all countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic, to stop deportation of Haitians,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said earlier this month.

Two days later, the president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, responded with derision, calling Turk’s statement “unacceptable and irresponsible” and saying it would instead speed up deportations.

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