Amelie Baron, Yahoo! News, November 4, 2015
Talk about a sad homecoming.
Jules Mismac, a Haitian living in the neighboring Dominican Republic, was arrested under a tough new immigration policy, then left at the border to start life over from scratch.
Arrested in the street while speaking with a preacher, he was sent back to a country he left years ago, with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a Bible in his hand.
Human rights groups are feverishly documenting the accounts of the many people like Mismac, caught up under the new Dominican law in sometimes arbitrary arrests since it took effect in June.
It stems from a 2013 court ruling that said people born in the Dominican Republic of parents without legal residency are no longer considered Dominican. Most are of Haitian origin.
For many Haitians, the treatment amounts to racism against black people by Dominicans, most of whom are lighter skinned and of mixed heritage.
Overnight, more than 250,000 people–mostly those born of Haitian parents–became stateless under the court ruling.
In response to an international outcry Santo Domingo established a process by which some 50,000 of those immigrants would be allowed to stay. But the majority were unable to finish the process in time for a June 17 deadline.
Dominican soldiers and Haitian police looked on as Mismac and the others boarded small vans for the short ride across the border into Haitian territory.
At an immigration processing office, Haitian clerks fill out forms for the new arrivals, who receive a paper from the International Organization for Migration stating they have in fact registered their entry.
On the sidelines of all this, Red Cross and Haitian aid organizations gather information from the people arriving, such as when they were arrested and how long they had been living in the Dominican Republic.
The data is entered onto forms prepared by the UN refugee agency.
The arrivals are asked where they are going to go in Haiti. But few have an answer.
For the officers working here in Malpasse, one of four border crossings, scenes of despair are common as deportees arrive day after day.
“They arrive by the dozen with nothing in their pockets,” said one immigration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is just not right.”
Another man arriving, Luc Blanco, 23, said he was arrested arbitrarily by the Dominican military.
“I know nothing about this country. I do not know what there is at the end of this turn,” he said, pointing to the road. “I do not know where they are going to take me or what they are going to do with me.”
Speaking Haitian Creole mixed with Spanish, Blanco said he was arrested outside his home.
“I told them I wanted to get my things from my house, but they did not give me time,” he said.
“Many people leave behind their children, their spouses. I consider that a crime against humanity,” said Pierre Garot Nere, coordinator of an umbrella grouping of organizations trying to help the deportees.
He said racism and xenophobia in the Dominican Republic are to blame, along with the international community’s failure to intervene.