Every year thousands of Haitian workers are rounded up and expelled from the Dominican Republic. In 2005 hysterical lynch mobs burned down houses and killed dozens of Haitians. Now the Dominican director of immigration Carlos Amarante Baret has declared that the presence of Haitian immigrants is “unbearable,” and that this must be high on the agenda of Dominican president Leonel Fernández, who begins his third term on August 16. The threat is of deportations on a massive scale.
Meanwhile, the xenophobia instigated by government leaders can set off bloody rioting. Not long after Amarante’s statement, shacks of Haitian agricultural workers in the town of Azua were burned to the ground by a mob following a shooting incident.
Haitian and Dominican organizations in New York City are joining hands to protest the deportation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic. We call for Haitian-Dominican workers solidarity against racist attacks. Everyone in the Dominican Republic, or in the U.S., should have full and equal rights.
Contrary to government leaders’ claims, a large part of the up to 1 million persons of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic have lived there for decades. Many were brought to work as slave labor in the sugar fields. Today whole sectors of the Dominican economy, including construction, depend on the hard labor of Haitian workers. Yet now they are threatened with mass expulsion.
Under the Dominican Immigration Law of 2004, children born in the country are denied citizenship and refused the right to attend school if their parents lack “legal” papers. A circular orders officials not to issue birth certificates to children whose parents cannot prove legal residency. This decree is enforced only against Haitians. Dominicans who protest it have been subject to kidnapping and death threats.
Dominican, Haitian and U.S. businessmen make millions off exploiting the cheap labor of Haitians and Dominicans. Hard-hit by rising food costs and fare hikes, on April 9 Dominican workers struck for higher wages and agrarian reform. At the same time, protests against hunger swept Haiti, where protesters were gunned down by United Nations “peacekeepers.”
Dominican officials whip up racism by blaming Haitian immigrants for the poverty endured by Dominican workers, just as immigrants in the U.S. are accused of “stealing American jobs.” This scapegoating is intended to divide the international working class.
In the U.S., tens of thousands of immigrants of Latin American, Near Eastern and Asian origin have been deported by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement police, often separating children from their parents. The more than 400,000 Haitian and over 600,000 Dominican immigrants in New York City can understand the anguish of Haitians who have long resided in the Dominican Republic and now face mounting persecution.
We call on all defenders of immigrants’ rights to join us on Thursday, August 7, to demand:
Centro Cultural Orlando Martinez (NY); Comité de Homenaje a los Heroes y Heroínas de la Patria; Grassroots Haiti (NY); Fr. Luis Barrios (St. Mary’s Episcopal Church); Haitian Cultural Group Granchimen (Brooklyn); Fuerza de la Revolución; Grupo Acción Patriótica (GAP); Internationalist Group; “Lakou Nouyok” (Haitian radio show, Brooklyn); League for the Revolutionary Party; Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center (NY); Osiris Mosquea; Movimiento por la Construcción. del Partido Socialista Dominicano (MCP-PSD); Movimiento Independencia, Unidad y Cambio (MIUCA); Movimiento Pro Patria (MOPA); N. Padina; Progressive Haitian Committee (KAP) (Boston); Voluntariado Político Ciudadano.