The lone major local political voice raised in outrage against the likely stateless future of thousands of persons of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic belongs to former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.
Mr Patterson has sharply condemned the court ruling, which seems set to strip thousands of children of Haitian migrant workers of citizenship. His was a call to action, as if nudging CARICOM leaders to rouse from their slumber and condemn the action.
"… We have an obligation to speak and cannot allow such inequities to go without our strongest condemnation," said Mr Patterson in media interviews.
Mr Patterson's dubbing of the Dominican Republic's xenophobic statute as "repugnant" echoes the sentiment of this newspaper which was outlined in these columns on September 30.
So far, CARICOM leaders have not been able to craft a response to this crisis, which will likely affect some 300,000 persons. Meanwhile, Haiti has recalled its ambassador from Santo Domingo and its foreign ministry has charged that the decision breached several international agreements, including a 2005 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
The Dominican Republic, which is an associate member of CARICOM, followed the principle of automatically bestowing citizenship on persons born on its soil up until 2010. However, last week's court ruling determined that all Haitian migrants who went to work in Dominican cane fields after 1929 were in transit, so their children, although born there, were not automatically entitled to citizenship.
So what is next for these Haitians? Massive deportation? To where? Frustration and discrimination? Most likely.
COULD OPEN FLOODGATES
The Dominican law could have sinister undercurrents in our region if it opens the floodgates to more stringent immigration laws. Recent incidents in some sister territories have demonstrated how difficult it is for CARICOM members to comply with the free movement of persons and skills component of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which heads of government agreed to in 2007.
The anti-immigration debate has been ignited around the world as developed countries introduce harsh anti-immigration laws to curb inflows of people. Concerns about competition for jobs, increased economic costs for providing social services, as well as crime, are being pushed to the fore by those opposed to migrants.
There are many who feel that this near paranoia about immigration is principally driven by racism. And it is a fact that many illegal migrants are torn between extremes of wealth and injustice, and this is what motivated them to flee their impoverished homelands.
But here we are talking about our CARICOM neighbours. Haiti, of course, is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and its citizens, like others, are always in search of new economic opportunities and a chance to succeed in life. Many apparently found work in the cane fields of the Dominican Republic, and their contribution to the country's development should not go unrecognised. So is it fair that their children who were born in that country and who are Dominicans should now be considered as foreigners in transit?
Mr Patterson is indeed correct that CARICOM should act now. Its leaders should sit down at the table and work out a path to citizenship for these Haitians. This discriminatory and xenophobic law cannot be allowed to stand.
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