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.
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.
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.
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.
In the days following the earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince and killed over 200,000 people, the United States granted temporary protected status (TPS) to those undocumented immigrants from Haiti who were living in the United States prior to the date of the quake. It was the right thing to do after such an “act of God.” Yet, it stood in stark contrast to the failure of the United States to use its migration policy to help Haitians in 2008, when the island was struck by a series of natural disasters that were arguably man-made—a series of storms made increasingly more frequent and violent by rising sea levels and temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Posted March 19, 2010. For the full article visit the links above.
Immigrant Policy in Québec: Successes and Lessons Learned
Video of my discussion with Yolande James, Minister of Cultural Communities, Government of Quebec, at the World Policy Institute April 7, 2010.
Canada has long taken pride in its reputation for successfully welcoming immigrants. Nevertheless, like other immigrant destinations, it has faced challenges like combating racism, matching immigrants’ skills with appropriate jobs, and ensuring that immigrants have the language skills they need. Under a bilateral agreement with the Canadian federal government, Québec is able to make its own policies on the immigrants it selects, and to design and implement its own policies on integration and diversity -that is, “immigrant” policies, and not just “immigration” policies.
Québec’s Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Yolande James, the daughter of Canadian citizens who emigrated from St. Lucia and St. Vincent, spoke with WPI Executive Director Michele Wucker about Québec’s successes and the lessons that it has learned. Minister James also spoke about how Québec has used immigration policies to support Haiti following the January 12 earthquake.