What can the Dominican Republic’s strict immigration modus operandi toward Haiti teach us about a Trump United States?
US presidential candidate Donald Trump has launched a new immigration proposal – that the US Constitution (Amendment XIV) be amended with the purpose of identifying the child (ren) of immigrants who are undocumented as not entitled to be American by birth.
Trump’s proposal re-emphasizes the alleged “danger” that the United States is filling with immigrants, especially working class Latin Americans and Caribbeans.
According to the current US Constitution, children of immigrant parents have full and equal rights as any other individual born on US territory.
There are approximately 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently residing in the US.
Immigration policies in the Dominican Republic may serve as a telling predecessor case study to Trump’s anti-melting pot propositions.
In 2010, the amended Dominican Constitution incorporated a comparable clause proposed by the US Republican candidate. But the Dominican Constitutional Court was to go further.
The constitutional amendment 169-14 declared all Dominican descendants of undocumented immigrants and born from 1929 on wards, were no longer Dominican – whether or not documentation substantiated otherwise.
The move was passed in the name of “defending nationality” and preventing the nation to be “merged”, “destroyed” or “diluted” in the face of historical and economic tension maintained with neighboring Haiti.
While local supporters of the policy have termed it necessarily “protectionist”, some critics have called it “ethnic cleansing”.
The consequences of such moves in the lives of thousands of ex-Dominicans of mostly Haitian decent are cross-industry.
Dominican Republic / Haiti Immigration Today
The arrival of undocumented Haitians to Dominican territory has increased in recent days, only one month left from the holding of presidential elections in Haiti scheduled for October 9.
Although the phenomenon is not new, according to the Dominican Army and the Specialized Border Security Corps Ground (Cesfront), in the last 72 hours, they have arrested a total of 108 Haitians who illegally crossed the border between the two countries.
Upon arrest, immigrants were handed over to Dominican immigration authorities for repatriation.
Many of the immigrants informed authorities and local journalists that they were in search of better living conditions.
“There is a lot of insecurity, high unemployment, food shortages and we see no hint of the future. People are scared,” Mary told EFE. Mary is one of the immigrants arrested by military stationed on the Dominican-Haitian border.
The Haitian human rights activist Alfonso Paul Deguis told local media that his countrymen are very interested in emigrating to the Dominican Republic and other countries because theirs, “does not see the conditions that allow them to develop a progressive economic and social environment”.
The head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has lamented that the Dominican Republic has not authorized his staff to verify the process of expulsion of undocumented immigrants in the country.
“I regret the inability of the Dominican Republic to respond to the offer of my office to support and verify expulsed Haitians,” said Zeid in his speech on the first day of the thirty-third session of the Human Rights Council, which recently took place in Geneva.
More than 40,000 people (including several hundred unaccompanied minors) have been repatriated from the Dominican Republic to Haiti between August 2015 and May 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and organizations of Haitian civil society .
At least another 68,000 Haitians returned to Haiti “spontaneously”, the sources added.
Could the United States be witnessing comparable measures soon?
Meanwhile, according to Trump, “Do not grumble and get out to claim whatever else. Go ask where their parents were born. That’s your problem “.
The extreme “protectionist” measures taking place in the Caribbean nation may be an insightful case study to keep in mind during the upcoming US elections and the hypothetical measures that may result.