BuzzFeed reporter Emily Tamkin interviewed Michele Wucker and quoted her in Trump Wants To Cancel Birthright Citizenship. The US Has Already Helped One Country Do That, a November 12, 2018 article about the Dominican Republic’s stripping of citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent.
Donald Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship by executive order was immediately denounced by legal scholars as an illegal intrusion on the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. But the United States knows something about ending birthright citizenship because it played an active role in helping another country bring it to a close — the Dominican Republic.
That role, which was unfolding before Trump became president, has long been the subject of criticism — from the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Trump’s criticism of birthright citizenship and call for a wall on the US–Mexico border have renewed concerns that the US is inflaming the Dominican Republic’s already hostile xenophobic attitudes toward its Haitian minority.
“US human rights organizations were very vocal against the court ruling in 2013, and were very vocal in documenting some of the problems, particularly as it came into force in 2015,” Michele Wucker, author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola, said.
Read the whole article on Buzzfeed.
The Dominican Republic, as it did nearly 80 years ago when offering Jewish refugees visas after the dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered an ethnic cleansing at the Haitian border, is trying to polish its international reputation after carrying out human rights violations condemned around the world. This time, it still has a chance to do the right thing by changing its policies on deportation and denationalization. My thoughts in Foreign Policy on October 8, 2015, about the country’s attempt to gloss over 11 counts of violations of the commitments it made under the American Convention on Human Rights, on which it has reneged and on what it could do to make things right (and make its public relations consultants’ job easier).
Sam Koebrich from cfr.org recently interviewed me about the expulsions to Haiti by the Dominican Republic of Dominicans of Haitian descent and recent migrants. “Deportations in the Dominican Republic,” August 13, 2015. Several people have noted that my approach to the issues avoid hyperbole and focus on constructive suggestions.
Acento republished the interview in Spanish in the Dominican Republic, prompting a series of tweets and posts to my public Facebook page from Dominicans who refuse to accept any criticism. At least one was outraged by the supposed international plot for “fusion” of the two countries sharing the island of Hispaniola -you know, the same plot that exists only in the mind of Dominican ultra-nationalists. But I don’t mind. They at least spelled my name right.
In the latest chapter in a long and complicated history of tensions with neighboring Haiti, the Dominican Republic is poised to deport recent Haitian migrants and expel Dominicans of Haitian descent who have not been able to prove that they were born there. This week, the deadline to apply for “regularization” passed, with many people saying they applied but have not been given proof, and many others having been rejected or having been unable to get past bureaucratic chaos.
National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish interviewed me June 17th, 2015, on All Things Considered about the history of tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the subject of my first book, WHY THE COCKS FIGHT: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola. You can listen to the interview and read the transcript HERE.
For additional information about the history of the two countries and current efforts by Dominicans and Haitians to overcome the past, please visit www.borderoflights.org.
I highly recommend Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones, a novel about the 1937 massacre, and Julia Alvarez’s A Wedding in Haiti, a contemporary and nuanced account of relationships among Dominicans and Haitians.
Three Dominicans living in New Jersey were elected recently to national legislative positions in the Dominican Republic, created precisely so that the country’s diaspora will be represented
Sumathi Reddy writes about this phenomonenon in the July 31 Wall Street Journal article, “Elected to Serve Far Away,” in which she quotes me about the significance of diaspora elected officials: “Michele Wucker, president of the World Policy Institute, said countries ‘have been reaching out to diaspora, increasingly offering them seats in Congress…, recognizing their remittances, their technical skills and their international networks are all important assets.’ ” More than a dozen countries have created similar positions, mostly over the past several years.
Those of you who have read my first book, Why the Cocks Fight, may recall the profile of a Dominican living in Washington Heights who ran for the equivalent of a seat in Congress from his home province in the Dominican Republic, but pledged to represent the more than one million Dominicans estimated to have been living in the United States and Canada at the time. More than a decade later, the country will finally be giving formal representation to these “dominicanos ausentes.”
An April 15, 2010 of Newsweek article by Jeneen Interlandi, “Enemies: A Love Story,” quotes me about the positive changes in the relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti since the January earthquake.
“We’ve had zero reports of violent attacks since the quake,” says Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute and author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola. Dominican officials have also been instrumental in helping international aid groups access their earthquake-ravaged neighbor, Wucker says.
Follow this link to read the whole article. The article is available in French at nouvelobs.com as “Comment Haïti et la République Dominicaine ont fait la paix.”
On January 21. I appeared with Marselha Gonçalves Margerin of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights on a Worldfocus Radio segment on the Dominican Republic and Haiti, hosted by Martin Savidge. Follow the link for audio and comments.
Here are links to my recent appearances on National Public Radio talking about the Haiti earthquake and Dominican-Haitian relations.
Latino USA, January 21 The Haiti Tragedy (scroll down to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Latin America)
Talk of the Nation, January 25: To Rebuild, Put Haitians in the Lead