On Wednesday, the Dominican Republic government denied a deadline extension request for applications to the Plan Nacional de Regularización (National Regularization Plan) from 18 advocacy organizations dedicated to defending Haitian migrant workers’ rights. The deadline for registration is scheduled for June 17. Roudy Joseph, spokesman for the coalition of organizations, announced that a document would be submitted to Haitian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Daniel Supplice, calling on the Haitian government to formally appeal for an extension until December.
The decision to deny the extension request comes during a time of deteriorating relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti following the passage of Sentencia 168-13 in September 2013, a law that effectively rendered hundreds of thousands of Haitians residing in the Dominican Republic stateless. The ruling retracted citizenship from anyone who was born to undocumented parents residing in the country. After immense pressure from the international community, the Dominican government established the Plan Nacional de Regularización in June 2014 to offer legal status to immigrants, primarily Haitian, who either entered the country illegally or who had been rendered stateless as a result of Sentencia 168-13. Over 200,000 people have already applied to register. Those unable to meet the deadline may face deportation.
Behind the request for an extension is the low registration rate for the plan, granted the Haitian population living in the Dominican Republic is estimated to be nearly one million. This has been attributed to the failure of the Programa de Identificación y Documentación de Haitianos en República Dominicana (Program for the Identification and Documentation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic)to provide Haitian residents with the required government identification documents to apply. Despite these complications, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of the Interior affirmed that the deadline will not be extended and that the government has already begun coordinating logistics to deport those in the country without proper documentation. Amid criticism from Dominican citizens and the international community, Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrés Navarro justified the government’s position, asserting national sovereignty and reaffirming the country’s adherence to human rights law.
Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic have begun preparing in anticipation of the nearing deadline. On Tuesday, Haiti announced that a refugee plan is underway for deported immigrants. Two organizations based in Santiago, la Asociación de Promotores y Constructores de Viviendas del Cibao (Association of Developers and Home Builders in Santiago—APROCOVICI) and the Asociación de Comerciantes e Industriales (Chamber of Commerce and Production—ACIS), signed an agreement pledging their commitment to work with authorities on the Plan de Regularización.