A rush for Do­mini­can res­i­dency per­mits

Peo­ple of Haitian de­scent face dead­line to avoid de­por­ta­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD -

SANTO DOMINGO, Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic — Peo­ple waited anx­iously in long lines through­out the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic on Wed­nes­day, ea­ger to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions for le­gal res­i­dency be­fore a mid­night dead­line and avoid pos­si­ble de­por­ta­tion.

Many had been wait­ing since the night be­fore, clutch­ing doc­u­ments they hoped would be suf­fi­cient to es­tab­lish their le­gal sta­tus and al­low them to stay in a coun­try that, for some at least, is the only home they have ever known. Nearly all are from Haiti or of Haitian de­scent.

“I have noth­ing in Haiti,” said Jaque­nol Martinez, a sugar cane worker wait­ing to sub­mit his ap­pli­ca­tion un­der a pro­gram to register mi­grant work­ers that be­gan a year ago.

Martinez said he has been in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic since com­ing from neigh­bor­ing Haiti with his par­ents as an 8-year-old in 1963. Un­der the “reg­u­lar­iza­tion” pro­gram, he should qual­ify for le­gal res­i­dency, but the Haitian gov­ern­ment has yet to pro­vide him with a birth cer­tifi­cate to es­tab­lish his iden­tity.

Oth­ers said they had sim­i­lar dif­fi­cul­ties get­ting iden­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Haitian Em­bassy or have been un­able to get doc­u­ments from em­ploy­ers in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, where many work un­der in­for­mal ar­range­ments.

The immigration reg­is­tra­tion pro­gram was sup­posed to have started in 2004 but it was de­layed by le­gal chal­lenges and didn’t be­gin un­til last June. Nonci­t­i­zens must show they have been here since be­fore Oc­to­ber 2011 to qual­ify for res­i­dency.

The law is aimed at reg­u­lat­ing the f low of mi­grants from im­pov­er­ished Haiti.

The gov­ern­ment pushed it for­ward last year amid in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism of a Supreme Court de­ci­sion say­ing peo­ple born in the coun­try to nonci­t­i­zens did not qual­ify for cit­i­zen­ship un­less they had at least one par­ent who was a citizen or le­gal res­i­dent.

The rul­ing in ef­fect ren­dered thou­sands state­less. The gov­ern­ment said about 50,000 peo­ple in this cat­e­gory will be granted cit­i­zen­ship.

The In­te­rior Min­istry has said there are about 500,000 peo­ple who could qual­ify for res­i­dency un­der the pro­gram.

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