Haitian immigrants have begun to flee the Dominican Republic, faced with a choice of deportation or beginning a lengthy legalization process.
In attempt to resolve the worsening crisis the OAS carried out a meeting between both governments from July 10 to 14.
“The OAS delegation met with the Haitian and Dominican authorities separately. We must unite both parties, outline ideas and create a program to solve this (problem),” General Secretary Luis Almargo commented following the visit.
Immigration problems have been ongoing in the country, after citizenship was restricted to children born to legal immigrants or with at least one Dominican parent.
The government then passed a new 2014 law, restoring citizenship to those who had their births recorded in the country’s national registry. In principal a simple solution, but many lack the essential documents and economic backing to start the legal process.
Yet thousands of Haitians have now been forced to flee or submit to the strict new law, left without any other choice.
Any further conflict resolution will be put on hold until Haiti issues a formal apology to the Dominican Republic for comments made against government immigration policy during negotiations.
Meanwhile, President Danilo Medina tweeted government plans to improve conditions for Haitian migrants.
Diseñó y ejecutó un amplísimo Plan de Regularización para Extranjeros residentes en condición migratoria irregular. pic.twitter.com/Sc5JTfZVrj
— PresidenciaRD (@PresidenciaRD) July 14, 2015
The OAS is set to release a more detailed report on immigration issues in the Dominican Republic by the end of the year.
Support for the government’s plans has been expressed by Dominican musician Juan Luis Guerra.
“As a Dominican of course I am aware of the problem. I am waiting and supporting our government, we have to take measures that they deem to be necessary to legalize everyone who lives in the Dominican Republic.” The singer told BBC Mundo.
Facts and figures
Futhermore, new studies by the UN into the 2012 National Immigration Study (ENI) contest that 12 percent of the Dominican population is of Haitian descent. The study reveals that the total is in fact five percent.
“We want to report that the first generation Haitian immigrants account for 209,912 people, officially recorded by the ENI in 2012 the 668,145 figure includes immigrants of Haitian origin and their descendants,” El Veedor Digital cited from the entity.
Yet as Haiti looks set to hold the first round of its presidential elections with $31 to $50 million deficit, thousands of Haitians continue to remain in limbo as the immigration conflict looks set to worsen.