US warns ‘darker-skinned’ citizens of Dominican Republic migrant crackdown | Dominican Republic
U.S. officials in the Dominican Republic are warning “darker-skinned” Americans they risk being drawn into the country’s crackdown on Haitian migrants.
Advice from the US Embassy in Santo Domingo suggests that authorities use a person’s appearance as criteria for detaining those suspected of being in the country illegally.
The Dominican Republic says it deported 43,900 migrants, mostly Haitians, between July and October in an operation it says is necessary for national security amid growing unrest, gang crime and of a fuel blockage inside its only neighbor on the island of Hispaniola.
The deportations include hundreds of children sent to Haiti without their parents, according to Unicef, reported by CNN.
Several countries and human rights agencies have condemned the program of mass arrests and deportations, criticisms which the Dominican Republic government says it “comprehensively rejects”.
The U.S. Embassy’s warning came in a bulletin on “continuing enforcement of Dominican migration” released over the weekend.
“Dominican migration agents have carried out widespread operations aimed at detaining those they believe to be undocumented migrants, particularly people of Haitian descent,” he says.
“In some cases, the authorities did not respect the legal status of these people in the Dominican Republic or their nationality. These actions may lead to increased interaction with Dominican authorities, especially for darker-skinned US citizens and US citizens of African descent.
He goes on to warn of reports of detainees “without the ability to challenge their detention and without access to food or toilets, sometimes for days.”
Notably, the approach taken by US officials does not go so far as to call for an end to the deportation program, as others, including Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, have done so.
The United States maintains its own deportation program for Haitian migrants, for which it has also been heavily criticized.
In defense of its position on the deportations, the Dominican Republic says there is “no evidence” of systemic human rights abuses, as the US Embassy bulletin suggests.
Its foreign relations ministry said in a statement: “The Dominican government could never have imagined that there would be such a harsh insinuation about our country, let alone from an ally who made the accused of xenophobic and racist treatment of migrants, including parts of its own population.
Tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share a 240-mile (390 km) border on the island of Hispaniola, have escalated since the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
Since then, deportations from the Dominican Republic have increased and the country’s government has increasingly militarized its border, even beginning the construction of a border wall.
President Luis Abinader last week called comments by UN human rights chief Türk “unacceptable and irresponsible”.
He said his country “has been more affected” by Haiti’s problems and constant migration and “more supportive than any other country in the world.”
“You can’t ask for anything more from the Dominican Republic. We will continue the deportations and next week we will increase them,” he said.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press