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Children of Illegal Haitian Immigrants Face Mass Deportation in Dominican Republic

Mothers who have made the trek from Haiti to the Dominican Republic for political and economic reasons are now facing a hardship they had never imagined. In the United States, children born inside the country automatically become citizens. Officials in the small Caribbean country of the Dominican Republic are not as lenient. In fact, a mass deportation of Haitian residents born to illegal immigrants is now in effect, causing anguish for parents who thought they had escaped their poverty-stricken country to create a better life for their children.

Back in 2013, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruled that if a child was born in the D.R. after 1929 but their parents were not legal citizens, their citizenship was not valid unless their parents obtained legal citizenship. This ruling makes all children born into the country who had previously held legal birth certificates, illegal immigrants as well.

At the time of the Supreme Court ruling there was no deadline for children of illegal immigrants to establish residency but in February Danilo Medina, the president of the Dominican Republic, announced an aggressive alien regularization plan which is being carried out this week. Authorities estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 residents of Dominican Republic will be affected by the deportation .

The Dominican government has set up a number of centers where Dominicans of Haitian descent can try to gain legal status to avoid deportation but these centers are reported to be unorganized and understaffed.

According to Interior Minister Ramon Fadul nearly 250,000 residents have filed initial paperwork but only 10,000 have met all of the requirements. Of these 10,000, as the deadline looms just days away, only 300 have received the permits they need to remain in the Dominican Republic.

There has been no official announcement of a mass deportation yet 12 buses and processing centers have been established along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, reportedly to aid in repatriation.

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