The Dominican Republic’s top immigration official said Monday the nation will keep deporting Haitian migrants despite criticism by human rights groups of stepped up efforts to catch illegal border crossers.
The government sent roughly 1,000 Haitians back to their earthquake-shattered homeland last week, deploying soldiers and immigration officials to set up border patrols and surprise checkpoints last week along highways, asking people aboard public buses and vans for their papers.
Dominican immigration director Sigfrido Pared said Monday that the government is compelled to resume immigration enforcement to prevent the flow of illegal Haitian migrants since last January’s earthquake and to stop the spread of cholera, which has killed more than 3,000 people in Haiti and sickened about 150 in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
He also said the crackdown is urgent “because a massive entry of Haitians always occurs in January.”
Pared said the Dominican Republic was complying with a 1999 bilateral protocol to allow deportees to gather their belongings and not be separated from their families. Officials are also obligated to halt deportations after nightfall and on weekends.