Dominican Court moves to strip citizenship from children of Haitian immigrants


Many children born in the Dominican Republic may have thought they were citizens. But a new court ruling will make about 200,000 stateless, cracking down on residents of Haitian heritage. And they'll lose a lot more than mere citizenship.

Why 200,000 people born in the Dominican Republic could find themselves stateless

"I have no birth certificate. This is why I don't have the possibility to continue my studies. I would like to pass my exams to get my diploma and then become an engineer".

Yuri Paul, 16 year old Haitian who lives in Dominican Republic

The country is full of people like Yuri Paul. There are nearly half-a-million Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Many are children born to Haitian migrants who work in sugar fields, banana plantations and the booming construction sector. The Dominican Government used to grant citizenship to anyone born in the country. But not any more.

Last week, its Constitutional Court issued a ruling that will block citizenship for anyone born to migrant workers since 1929. As a result, roughly 200,000 people could be stateless and without access to basic government services.

Jean-Robert Lafortune is the head of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, a group that advocates for Haitians and Haitian ex-pats all over the world. He was in Miami.

We requested interviews with the Dominican Republic through its embassies in Ottawa and Washington. We also tried contacting the Haitian ambassador to the Dominican Republic. We received no word back.

For more about the tense relationship between the countries that share an island but sometimes not much else:

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This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott, Shannon Higgins and Peter Mitton.

Last Word - Malala Yousafzai

Don't miss The Current tomorrow for an exclusive Canadian interview. Anna Maria Tremonti speaks with Malala Yousafzai on the anniversary of the attack that nearly ended the Pakistani girl's life. The National will also have additional coverage focused on Anna Maria's interview, and will speak with other girls wounded in the Taliban assassination attempt.

Malala not only recovered from a bullet wound to the head, she renewed her campaign to defy the Taliban and encourage all of Pakistan's sons and daughters to pursue an education.

The United Nations declared her birthday Malala Day. And this summer she spoke at the UN. We've played a little of this before, but with the Taliban promising to try to kill her again if its gets the chance, it's worth hearing this 16 year old's defiance and compassion.

Today's Last Word goes to the determined girl from Swat, Pakistan.


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