People of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic stand in line to apply for a birth certificate listing them as foreigners in the Dominican Republic. Those who did not meet the Feb. 1 deadline are now stateless.

Credit: Ezequiel Abiu Lopez / AP via NPR

Crisis In The Dominican Republic, Bubbling In Boston

July 30, 2015


From Donald Trump’s incendiary comments about immigrants to the solemn lowering of the Confederate flag at the South Carolina state house following shootings in Charleston, we are grappling with national conversations about race, identity, and citizenship. But in this week's Under the Radar, we're highlighting an international story with local implications that is framed at the intersection of all three.

In June, laws went into effect in the Dominican Republic aimed at expelling an estimated two hundred and ten thousand Dominicans of Haitian descent— people born and raised in the Dominican Republic— from their country, and deport them "back" to Haiti. Laws that are echoed by several high profile presidential candidates calling for for us to question birthright citizenship. 

The two countries (which share an Island) embody racial disparity, as the resource-rich Dominican side of the island attracts tourists from around the globe and the impoverished Haiti has fought off Hurricanes and Earthquakes. There has been a small but fierce international outcry against the racial, economic and political circumstances surrounding Dominican Republic's decision to begin to expel darker skinned Haitian Dominicans, particularly here in Massachusetts, where and Boston’s sizable Haitian community have marched, and protested vocally. Not to be shouted down, Boston-area Dominicans have also protested, explaining their government's case as over population blooms.

Two weeks ago, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh lead a demonstration with other state officials to denounce the expulsion, and called for a boycott. He was the first US mayor to do so.

Juan Valdez, Assistant Professor of language education at Queens College of the City University of New York and editor of “Tracing Dominican Identity," join Brown Lecturer and Boston Haitian contributing Editor, Patrick Sylvain and Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry to discuss the laws, and the fall out.

"This is a legal and political decision that is incredibly complex," Valdez explains, "but tremendously pressing," Dorcena-Forry adds.

WGBH News is supported by:
Back to top