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Dominican Republic set to deport thousands of Haitians

FACING IMMIGRATION: Nearly 200,000 people of Haitian descent are battling controversial immigration laws in the Dominican Republic

ALMOST 200,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent are battling controversial immigration law that has stripped them of their birth nationality and will now force them out of the country.

New laws introduced in the Dominican Republic last year to tackle illegal immigration have resulted in the mass deportation of hundred of thousands of the migrant community who fail to produce the appropriate paperwork.

Human rights groups have criticised the move as being rooted in generations of racism and xenophobia towards darker-skinned Haitians.

Thousands of residents from neighbouring Haiti face being deported as the new immigration law comes into effect today (June 18).

As part of the requirements to obtain legal stay, non-residents will be expected to show the necessary documents to prove that they have been in the country before October 2011.

Human rights groups say the 2014 law could impact as many as 200,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent who lost their Dominican citizenship after a constitutional court ruling in 2013 reversed the right of citizenship for foreigners born in the Dominican Republic, stripping children of Haitian migrants of their Dominican nationality.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic together form Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba.

Over the last century it is expected that countless number of Haitians have crossed into the Dominican Republic in search of greater job prospects or to escape political violence.

According to the Interior Ministry it is estimated that there are nearly 500,000 residents who could qualify for residency under the new programme but only half have submitted applications and only a fraction of that have produced sufficient documentation. Those deemed eligible would earn a two-year temporary migrant status.

As fearful migrants flock to government offices in that capital of Santo Domingo, some have waited as long as four days to submit residency applications as the deadline for registration looms.

The Dominican army are reported to have 2,000 troops on standby to coordinate the removal of people who fail to meet legal requirements to remain in the country.

Minister of the Interior and Police, Monchy Fadul, has said those who remain in queues and within the specified area after the deadline will still be attended to.

Dominican President Danilo Medina has assured concerned human rights groups that there will be no mass deportations however local media have reported that the government has dozens of buses ready to transport undocumented people to the Haitian border.

In anticipation to receive some of its nationals, the Haitian government has cleared a field near the border-crossing point at Malpasse to provide assistance to people who have been deported.

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