Abinader’s New Immigration Policy

By Ana Perez, 9th Grade

On November 1, 2021, President Luis Abinader made an international call to act with urgency in Haiti and announced stricter migration and labor policies regarding Haiti. As Abinader has been stating since 2019, “The presence of illegal immigration in the country can no longer be accepted.”

One of the rules included making 80% of the labor force of Dominican descent, even though most of the labor force in the agricultural and civil construction are Haitian undocumented immigrants. A time limit of three months was given to companies to resolve the issue with thousands of irregular Haitian workers. He also announced that he would be banning the entrance of pregnant women with over 6 months of pregnancy, to avoid the costs of treating Haitians in public hospitals. 

The crisis in Haiti has been aggravated because of political unrest, armed gang violence, the effects of the 2021 Haiti earthquake which led to indiscriminate kidnappings, such as the case of 17 missionaries and their family members being kidnapped on October 16 in Gaither, east of Port-au-Prince. The political unrest in Haiti is also leaving the country without gas and food, which is one of the main causes for illegal immigration – paired with overpopulation, wars, family reunification, and trade liberalization with unemployment. However, there is an underlying issue with the migration policy, such as the hatred Dominicans and Haitians have for each other.

Relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti can be considered turbulent at best, both politically and culturally ever since the Haitian Invasion in 1822. In 1937, under the rule of Rafael Trujillo who wanted to fix the so-called Haitian problem, 20K – 30K Haitians were massacred at the border with machetes in the Perejil Massacre, to sell the story that the uprising was caused by Dominican farmers and not the government. The massacre lasted 5 – 8 days and the government refused to even acknowledge their involvement. The Dominican Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of thousands of undocumented Haitian parents, even if they were technically Dominican citizens, leaving 200,000 without a nationality. 

It is hard to deny that there are xenophobic and racist sentiments against the Haitian population in the present day, either originating from the Haitian Invasion of 1822 or the Dominican Independence in 1844. However, some have attributed this to the US Occupation of La Hispaniola, allowing for the white elite in the Dominican Republic to implement institutionalized racism (attitudes of institutions towards a certain race). This also brought the “white is prime” ideal to the Dominican Republic, leading to the decision of Trujillo to whiten the Dominican Republic by murdering Haitians at the border. Haitians also have a negative view of Dominicans, although they immigrate to the Dominican Republic since they believe it to be economically and environmentally better than Haiti. 

While both have negative views of each other, anti-Haitianism in the Dominican Republic is more prominent and has been around for centuries, since it views Haitians as “the other” and the scapegoat for all problems – diseases, unemployment, and social crises. However, while Abinader wants to decrease Haitian labor migration, the economic benefits this has brought are overlooked, making it a perfect example for the “needed but unwanted” syndrome.

At the end of the day, both countries having a negative viewpoint of each other is not leading us anywhere except for a path of racism that will give us nothing worthwhile. If we want to end illegal immigration to the Dominican Republic, an economic, social, and diplomatic bridge between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with Haiti receiving foreign aid and a decent government, it would end the root cause of illegal immigration in the first place – political instability, poverty, and violence.

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