April 25th, 2014
09:41 AM ET

Dominican Republic 'committed to inclusive immigration policy'

By Aníbal de Castro, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Aníbal de Castro is ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United States. This article is a response to an opinion piece from Amnesty International published earlier this week. The views expressed are his own.

The Dominican Republic is taking proactive steps to tackle the complex issue of immigration by implementing a policy for registering both national and immigrant citizens, while protecting everyone’s fundamental rights. And the challenges the Dominican Republic is facing to adopt these policies are not much different than those confronting the United States and other nations.

But, as lawmakers around the world have learned – there are no easy solutions.

Last September, the Constitutional Court ruled that the government of the Dominican Republic was required to launch a proactive process to implement a fair and transparent immigration policy, one that respects each person’s contribution to Dominican society and gives clarity to an outdated system. This marks a historic moment in the country’s 170-year history, and will enhance the security and prosperity of the Dominican Republic and island of Hispaniola at large.

This inclusive immigration policy will help improve the condition of undocumented immigrants in a transparent and fair manner. Over the next 18 months, the government will implement measures that will make clear the migratory status of approximately 435,000 people from almost 120 countries. All the while, the government is maintaining its strong commitment to human rights and international standards.

Importantly, the government is working to implement this new policy in a way that will protect the fundamental rights of every person living on Dominican soil.

Communication and cooperation with the international community and key allies is critical to achieving our goals. In fact, the Dominican Republic has received support from the international community, including the EU and the current U.S. ambassador for tackling this thorny matter in an open and transparent manner.  We look forward to continued engagement and dialogue with the EU, UN, OAS, and CARICOM as this policy is developed.

Maintaining constant dialogue with our close neighbor and key ally, Haiti, is equally crucial to our efforts.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti have a long-standing, collaborative relationship, and our effort to modernize documentation and border policies is another valuable opportunity to work closely with Haitians to improve the development and security of the island of Hispaniola. The stability and security of the island is a shared challenge, and both governments are proactively engaging and collaborating for the benefit of both Dominicans and Haitians.

The two countries have launched a dialogue at the highest level to develop a comprehensive immigration solution. We are also are working together to promote joint projects to strengthen bilateral trade, improve infrastructure, enhance healthcare services and strengthen border security. The Dominican Republic looks forward to continuing our close collaboration with Haiti on these, and other, important issues.

The Dominican Republic is a multicultural, inclusive society that has always worked hard to support its immigrant community. We are committed to guaranteeing basic services, including free access to education and healthcare, to all individuals living in the country.  The Dominican Republic currently invests 18 percent of its healthcare budget to service the immigrant population and 54,000 immigrant students (this number refers to both public school and university students from Haiti) are registered in public schools throughout the country. Further, the government ensures the right for all children to access a free education, regardless of migratory status or nationality. This strong commitment to guaranteeing basic services will continue, as we strive to improve the quality of life for all individuals living on Dominican soil.

We appreciate the international community’s support as we embark on this complex process to implement a comprehensive immigration policy that will facilitate our progress towards a successful island as a whole and continue to involve our most important ally, Haiti.

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Topics: Immigration • Latin America

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. 100 % ETHIO

    Come-on! Dominican Republic and other tiny islands around its surrounding were given to them by British-Americans, during Slavery time. Because, the Slaves were unable to adaopt cold whether, in North-America.

    Who will go their anywaysrf

    April 25, 2014 at 9:56 am |
    • THORN

      I'm afraid you are misinformed, Haiti was French and they were brutal, DR was Spanish and, perhaps, not quite as brutal. The history is complex and the populations are large by any metric. The French behavior was and continues to be immoral. Reparations are due.

      April 25, 2014 at 10:42 am |
  2. Rainiel Sierra

    100 % ETHIO, You need to know that even that we share the same island we are two different countries, one that is totally Hispanic which is the Dominican Republic and the other one being french which is Haiti and more leaning toward the African ancestors. Haiti is where it is now because them themselves got there because back in the 1700ths Haiti was the must prosperous countries of the Americas and the Dominican Republic was so broke that the Spanish abandoned.

    April 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
  3. ✠RZ✠

    Receive a pack of ten kwoktail umbrellas whenever you sign up for your Club Dominican Immigrant Membership. Act now and you'll receive a second pack absolutely free. Just pay separate shipping and handling.

    April 26, 2014 at 8:31 am |
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  4. j. von hettlingen

    Ambassador Aníbal de Castro wrote: "The Dominican Republic is a multicultural, inclusive society". Multicultural, yes!
    Inclusive? The richest 10% of the population, overwhelmingly the white descendants of Spanish settlers, own most of the land and benefit from 40% of national income. The poorest peasants are people of African descent – including an estimated 800,000 of Haitian immigrant origin.

    April 28, 2014 at 3:43 am |
    • Victor

      Dude, where are you getting all of this made up demographic data from?.. 10% rich whites? and the rest of just African ancestry? Dominicans are not just African alone, we're a mix of all three groups. Even the whitest looking Dominicans are mix with some level of native and African.

      April 28, 2014 at 9:24 am |
      • DominicanRepublicnfo

        I would say that he is right....the whiter your skin in DR, usually it means that the more money you have....
        and the people from middle class are usually white or light mulattos

        April 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm |
  5. miami509

    Well...... many are not happy of their african roots!!

    April 29, 2014 at 5:10 am |
  6. miami509

    Hispanola is the Isand, Haitians cherish their african roots. However, the other side of the island does not cherish their african roots. Many will deny their african roots but cannot hide it to the rest of the world. Reality has face many who are from the Dominican Republic. Upon landing to the United States and is labeled as being black. I am an american but my parents are from Haiti.

    April 29, 2014 at 5:16 am |

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