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Avellon Williams

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC- A warning has been issued by the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic to “darker-skinned” American citizens regarding the island country’s immigration policies in an attempt to curb illegal immigration from Haiti.

/Image, DT/

It was reported in a bulletin issued by the Embassy this week that “in recent months travelers to the Dominican Republic have reported being delayed, detained, or subject to heightened questioning at ports of entry and in other encounters with immigration officials based on their skin color.”

The statement added, “Reports of disparate treatment of U.S. citizens by Dominican authorities are a matter of ongoing concern to the U.S. Embassy.” 

/Image, MPI/

Other reports indicate that Dominican immigration agents have targeted illegal immigrants, including those from Haiti or of Haitian ancestry, in “widespread operations.” The islands of Hispaniola are shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

“In some cases, authorities have not respected these individuals’ legal status in the Dominican Republic or nationality,” the alert said.

These actions may lead to increased interaction with Dominican authorities, especially for darker-skinned U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens of African descent. There are reports that detainees are kept in overcrowded detention centers, without the ability to challenge their detention, and without access to food or restroom facilities, sometimes for days at a time, before being released or deported to Haiti.”

/Image, DEIM/

On Monday, the U.S. Embassy alerted the Dominican Republic’s Foreign Affairs Ministry of “profusely rejecting” claims of the government. According to the ministry, the U.S. government has shown “no evidence” of alleged human rights violations.

“We never expected such a harsh insinuation would be made about our country,” the Dominican government told AP.

Haiti has been plunged further into chaos since former president Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021 amid reports of armed gangs taking control of swaths of the impoverished country. As a result, the Dominican government has tightened immigration controls and begun building border walls in some areas.

Jovenel Moise /Image, ALJ/

According to Dominican officials, 43,900 migrants were deported between July and October, mostly Haitians. It was reported that deportations increased by about 50 percent in September and October alone.

In the past few weeks, the Dominican Republic is alleged to have deported around 1,800 unaccompanied Haitian children to Haiti.

The Dominican Republic’s migration authority director, Venancio Alcantara, denied the U.N.’s allegations and said “minors remain with their parents at all times.”

Alcantara said in a statement on Tuesday, “all deportations are carried out with complete and absolute respect for human dignity and human rights.” 

Director Venancio Alcantara /Image, DR1/

According to another U.N. official, the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince is controlled by criminal gangs by about 60 percent. In addition, the impoverished country is experiencing a cholera outbreak.

In Haiti last month, 195 murders were reported, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator Ulrika Richardson told reporters on Wednesday. As a way of extending their influence throughout the capital, gangs use violence and criminal activity to “instill fear and punish and terrorize the local populations.”

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Avellon Williams

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