Words by Stevenson Benoit
In recent news, the Minister of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE), Me Olicier Pieriche, condemned the discriminatory actions against Haitian nationals living in the Bahamas. “According to information we have received, Haitian migrants including pregnant women and children are arrested and crammed into inhumane conditions in Carmichael, an incarceration center of migrants, in the Bahamas,” said Pieriche.
The new immigration measures were implemented in November 2014, declaring that all foreign nationals living in the Bahamas without residency would be repatriated back to their country of origin. The highest demographic of undocumented foreigners is the migrant Haitian population. According to the new measures, children born from undocumented parents will also find themselves repatriated alongside their parents.
Since the enforcement of the new statutes, migrant Haitians are living in peril and fear being detained and deported. Currently about 70,000 immigrants (18% of the population of the Bahamas) live on the island chain with most being undocumented, including 20,000 to 50,000 Haitians (International Organization for Migration – IOM).
The unjust and racist immigration policy in the Dominican Republic is merely the icing in comparison to the Bahamas’ new measures. The Bahamas applies a much more stringent immigration law, since the question is not of regularization of migration status of migrant Haitians forced to live in an irregular situation.
Yes, Dominican vagrants have attacked Haitians and burned the republic’s bicolored flag. They have done so for as long as anyone can remember. What has changed recently however is that whenever they do, there is a camera on standby and an HD-quality edited video to be immediately plastered all over social media. The actions can be argued as premeditated and insidious. In retaliation, Haitian rebels allegedly scaled the Dominican Consulate in Petion Ville in Haiti and replaced the Dominican flag with a Haitian one. Surprisingly, all this occurring while the trigger-happy MINUSTAH and Haitian paramilitary police (UDMO) making no attempt to stop, identify, or arrest them.
Dominican and Haitian organizations in New York City staged a demonstration and a vigil at the Dominican Republic’s Consulate Feb. 26 to protest the lynching of a Haitian national, Henry Claude-Jean “Tulile”, in the Dominican Republic earlier in February. The lynching of “Tulile” on Feb. 4, the night after a Haitian flag was set ablaze in a park in his town of Santiago, sparked many protests of anti-Haitian legislation that stripped citizen rights of migrant Haitians who had called the Dominican Republic “home away from home”.
In a statement clarifying their position, the Dominican human rights group, HALANY, stated that they vehemently oppose the “Dominican Constitutional Court’s decision to strip tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality, violating fundamental human rights.”
On its website, HALANY states that it was “founded to promote and encourage participation by Haitian Americans and other ethnic minorities in the judicial and legal system.” It also stood against the Dominican court’s decision for jeopardizing the security of about 200,000 migrants.