Members of the Haitian Roundtable (HRT) have joined New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio in condemning the threatened expulsion of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin from the Dominican Republic. The possibility of a forced exodus has emerged since a deadline expired for Haitians and Dominican-Haitians to apply for permission to remain in the country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
The preparations to expel Dominicans of Haitian origin follow a 2013 decision by the country’s highest court that stripped citizenship from children of parents who were in the Dominican Republic illegally. Many of the estimated 250,000 targeted by the Dominican government have been in the country for up to three generations and know little or nothing about Haiti. The decision has been condemned by human rights organizations and procedures to enable citizenship or residence have also been criticized as inadequate.
De Blasio called the action “immoral” and “racist” in a news conference at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Center in Washington Heights. “It is a deeply troubling moment in the Dominican Republic,” Mayor De Blasio declared. “The government is fundamentally undermining the rights of the people of not just the Dominican Republic – the people of Haiti, the people of that island they share. In defying our common sense of humanity, this is an affront to our values – our shared values as human beings.”
The mayor was joined by prominent Dominicans and Haitian-Americans, including author Edwidge Danticat; Gary Rodney, president of the NYC Housing Development Corporation and an HRT 1804 List inductee; NYC Council member Mathieu Eugene, HRT Chairperson Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, who is also Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office To Combat Domestic Violence and Haitian Roundtable board members Rodney Leon, an architect, and Dina Simon, NYC Deputy Commissioner of Corrections.