Officials have stated that a path to citizenship will become available, but gave no firm details. Roberto Rosario, president of the electoral commission, insisted the government is not denying people the right to become Dominican citizenships. He stated that people will be able to “legalize themselves through the national legalization plan.” This plan has not been created, despite a 2004 law that called for it. The electoral commission estimates that it will take no more than two years for legalization.
Many believe that the decision is a direct result of racism and anti-Haitian sentiment that exists in the country. David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, told the AP that this decision is part of a broader trend to keep Haitians from entering the country.
“The fear of the Dominican Republic, of being pulled down to the level of Haiti economically and the ‘blackening’ of the country, has been an obsession of Dominican politicians for well over a century,” he said.
Roxanna Altholz, associate director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, agreed. She said she was concerned about violent racism against Dominicans of Haitian descent.
“Are they going to do summary expulsions? Is the Dominican Republic going to conduct raids? I don’t know how they’re going to implement this decision,” she asked.
The Dominican government insists that they will analyzing birth certificates to determine who’s citizenship will be stripped. Experts, however, are worried that this will only lead to a human rights crisis.
“The impact could be truly catastrophic,” said Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at Florida International University, “They are stigmatizing an entire Haitian population.”