Friday, December 16, 2005

Where you are and where you come from.

On November 20, the New York Times published an article titled "Immigrant Laborers from Haiti are Paid With Abuse in the Dominican Republic". This was a very ballsy article written by one of the most prestigious publications in the United States that generated reactions from a number of groups because not only did it accuse Dominicans of practicing modern day slavery it accussed them of things that would probably make sense if we couldn't argue that the U.S. does the same exact thing with the Mexicans but in a grander scale.

Vicente Fox said that "Mexicans do work that not even the blacks in the US will do", (without trying to sound politically correct) I thought that the man was right. The Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of America got all bent out of shape over that statement but it's the truth. Mexican laborers are paid with abuse in the United States.

The whole Haiti issue has gotten a lot of attention from everyone these days. It all started with a few murders, it continued with worker's rights and most recently because of the immigration issue.

Before I proceed, I want you to picture this: Dominican Republic is a third world country. It is far richer than Haiti, this is true; however, it is a very poor country drowned in debt, about to enter the
CAFTA which I can't imagine will bring anything good. Here in Dominican Republic, there aren't enough schools for our children let alone other children, there aren't enough hospital supplies and beds for our people let alone other people, there aren't enough jobs (the Codigo laboral even says that you can't employ more than 20% foreigners) and there simply aren't enough resources. This isn't really a "land of opportunity". People do what they have to do to make end's meet and that's that.

Now, there are over a million Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic. ON THE MOST PART (as in NOT ALL OF THEM), these people can't speak our language, don't share our culture, and have no formal education to speak of. The women have taken to cross the border so they can come give birth here and later good portion of these women and children can be found on the streets begging and panhandling.

According to the Dominican Constitution you are a Dominican citizen by
jus solis and jus sanguinis. In layman's terms that means by birth and blood. Over the years Haitians have taken advantage of this and have been coming to have their children in our hospitals. A number of steps have been taken to prevent this but all to no avail.

Yesterday the Supreme Court in one of its most important ruling regarding immigration law said that it is Dominican everyone who is either born to Dominican parents, or born in the Dominican Republic while legally here. Basically, members of the foreign service, people in transit, and illegal aliens who have their children here can not opt for Dominican citizenship.

This is a huge step regarding the immigration situation. Most Dominicans are happy with this measure and even the opposing parties applaud the decision. Pro-Haitian groups, however, are not happy with the decision and there is even talk about them wanting to take the Dominican Republic to the
international court.

In one of the many gatherings that have taken place in the Hague over the years (I can't remember which one), each country was given the right to decide how their people would gain citizenship. Apparently that's okay for everyone except Dominicans.

I come from a family of immigrants. I know first hand what it's like to leave your home in the hopes of something better for yourself and your family. In my opinion, immigrants and refugees deserve our utmost respect; however, I am a firm believer in procedure. There are ways to do things and if you do things right they usually work out better.

Personally, I applaud the Supreme Court ruling and I hope that it will make things better. Dominicans need a visa to visit the vast majority of countries. I REALLY don't see what the big deal is for a Haitian to get a visa to come here. Procedure people. Procedure.


Odisea Burbujas said...

I agree with you in theory. Procedure is the best way to deal with this situation. However, the thing in this case is that the "procedure" is clearly anti-Haitian and it is not being executed in a fair, just and civil manner.

Haitians are being attacked by mobs of vigilantes and the Government does nothing to protect them and I've read many stories where Dominican police and government deport Haitians regardless of the having legal documentation. The authorities are the first to treat them with a total lack of respect and then it just trickles down from there. Mobs attack Haitians indiscriminately, whether they did anything or not, and they do it because they know that they can get away with it. No one is going to anything.

If not of this stuff was going on and the Government did what they were supposed to do and people weren't being murdered and humiliated left and right then the procedure would be peachy. Sadly, this just isn't the case.

Tetey said...

Ana, I agree with you 100% !!!!!

Jonas said...

And on a more broader point of view, the funny thing about immigration is closing off borders can cause harm sometimes. Because of Ellis Island many Jews were able to escape oppressive Russia in the early twentieth century. However, when the borders were closed, and Jews couldn't leave Nazi Germany, mind numbing atrocities occurred. While I do agree that procedure is important. If you want to come to a country, applying for a Visa is the proper way to do it. But sometimes people need refuge. That is why immigration is such a difficult issue.

annush said...

sometimes people need refuge, I agree with you completely; however, this isn't about refuge it's about citizenship. It's also about a country that can't afford its own population (DR) dealing with an unnecessarily larger load.

Ellis Island is in a country that has alwys been able to afford and even encouraged immigration. That's not the case here.

Jonas said...

and that is why it is a tough issue. If DR is in that much trouble, then Haitian immigration is only adding problems but not the cause of them. However I do not live in your country so this is merely my bleeding heart talking...

Libélula said...

I agree with you 100% on this one.

Gabemaster said...


From a legal point of view you are right in that there are procedures and that Haitians should apply for visas and all that you are right. But now put yourself in their shoes. You are born less than dirt poor almost Somalian poor, you were not given formal education and you want to make a living not robbing people, not selling drugs not killing people you want to make a living simply WORKING, earning your living. You are in Hati where getting a job would be close to a miracle. You tell me you wouldn't cross the border to work and feed yourself and your family?

Of course, I agree that the Dominican Republic can't sustain this influx of more poor people and they have the right to enforce their immigration laws. That I will not argue against. But here is the hypocrisy of the issue,
(and you know this) the government itself HIRES all these Haitians to work in constructions and cut sugar cane among other types of jobs that Dominicans will not do. So at the same time they are turning a blind eye to the abuses that are being committed and they talk and talk about how the DR cannot sustain all these Haitians coming over and have to deport them no questions asked...they are encouraging them to come because they will hire them.

That simply put is diverting attention, and making Haitians scapegoats of the problems facing the nation. Throw on top the RACISM which has existed rampantly for decades (for those who don't know, in overall Haitians are darker than Dominicans) to the point that a regular Dominican Joe on the street feels complimented when told that he looks like an European but would want to beat the living crap out of you when told that he looks Haitian or African. The word scapegoat is the first thing that comes to mind

Sorry this comment wound up being so long I didn't think it would be.

Ulises Jorge Bidó said...

Dear Ana,

For some reason when it comes to any Dominican-Haitian issue, the only angle that matters is the Haitian side. The Dominican side is often demonized, which is tragic. I really appreciate your post; it is refreshing and is a message that needs to be heard. There is not a Dominican solution for the Haitian problem. We can help and indeed we are helping, but I’m afraid that even well meaning people that are interested in justice for the Haitian people often recurs to lies and inflammatory rhetoric. That is not helping.

Al least for me, your opinion means a lot and I will send it around (with the url, of course) so more people are aware of your writings.

Best regards,

Ulises Jorge
San Juan, PR