“Myths About the Regularization Plan”, an article by Dr. Leonel Fernádez

June 29, 2015

In an article from June 19, 2015, The New York Times reported that the fears and predictions surrounding a mass deportation of undocumented Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic had dissipated, following the closing of the period for their regularization.

But previously that had not been the case. In the days prior to the end of the regularization window, various international organizations, personalities, and media outlets had
contributed to presenting the Dominican population as racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory.

The Washington Post, for example, referred to “the bloody origins” of the “ethnic ‘cleansing’” that would occur in the Dominican Republic. Those origins are presumably to be found in the massacre ordered by Trujillo in 1937, blurring the point that the Trujillo dictatorship cannot be confused with the
Dominican people, and that it assassinated not just Haitians but Dominicans as well.

The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, went to Washington Heights, the heart of the densest concentration of Dominicans in that metropolis, to argue there that the actions of the Dominican government with respect to Haitian immigration were illegal, immoral, and racist.

In his words, strategically uttered in front of the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz
Memorial and Education Center, named for two American icons of the civil rights movement, he claimed that “it’s happening because these people are black.”

In Spain, the daily El País held that “were it not for its real and tragic dimension, one might think this was mediocre fascist parody.” Likewise, other publications branded us as promoting civil genocide, racial discrimination, mass denationalization,
and negrophobia.

There was no lack of epithets. Nonetheless, what’s clear is that this discourse was built on the basis of myths and confusions arising from ruling 168-13 of the Constitutional Court and from Law 169-14 on the Regularization of Foreigners.

The first myth springs from the assertion that hundreds of thousands of people have been stripped of their Dominican nationality. This arose
from the judicial decision to review the civil registry, from 1929, to specify which persons born on Dominican soil had been inappropriately registered by the civil registry authorities.

Following the review of those registries, the Central Electoral Committee specified that the cases of foreigners who had registered their children without legal entitlement to do so numbered 24,392.

Nonetheless, the concern that those persons would be stripped of their
Dominican citizenship was resolved with Law 169-14, which recognized their nationality via an open procedure, in its first stage, that ended on January 30, 2015.

Thus, the human drama and potential legal limbo that confusion over the status of these nationals would have created was avoided. Their right to their identities was guaranteed, while at the same time the error in registering the children of illegally resident foreigners was corrected in the civil

Hence, the charge of the stripping of citizenship from individuals who had spent generations living in the country was resolved through the possibility of receiving the appropriate documentation via this process.

Discrimination and racism
A second myth alleges that the Foreigner Regularization Plan is discriminatory and racist by nature.

Nothing could be more untrue. The argument,
nevertheless, was woven in relation to the two groups that exist with respect to the regularization of persons who have never been listed in the civil registry.

The first includes those born on Dominican soil to foreign parents with no legal residence and who were never registered or received a birth certificate.

The second group is composed of foreigners who, having been born abroad, emigrated from their countries of origin to make their homes in the
Dominican Republic without complying with the procedure to establish residence.

Despite being under no obligation to do so, the Dominican state nonetheless created the possibility for both groups to become legal residents of the Dominican Republic. The requirements to that end were the same as those for all foreigners, which supports the nondiscriminatory character of the Regularization Plan.

A total of 288,000 persons registered, some 30 percent more
than expected, according to Cy Winter, mission head of the International Organization for Migration.

That, of course, is the most obvious proof of a mass response and an adequate procedure that allowed, for the first time in Dominican history, the regularization of migratory status of a significant number of undocumented persons.

Mass deportations
A third myth that has arisen around this regularization process is, as we
have seen, that mass deportations have been announced, even before the plan had reached the end of its open period.

It is to be expected, after a process like the one that has just ended, that the persons who did not respond to the plan, or who could not document their links to the country, be repatriated to their respective countries of origin.

Nor is this the apocalyptic tragedy it has been made out to be. The Dominican state, like any other state in
the world, has the obligation to uphold standards of human rights protections during these repatriations. The cases must be individually identified and must be examined and resolved according to their respective merits.

Summary mass repatriations run against the international order, and the Dominican Republic, in line with the provisions of our constitution, assumes the values and principles of international norms and respect for human rights.

Hence our
country shall never deploy the practice of summary mass deportations. Furthermore, despite the existence of a deportations protocol between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, both states are currently engaged in a negotiation to introduce several changes to confer greater guarantees.

Designed to fail
A fourth myth put forward by nongovernmental organizations and international media is that the Regularization Plan was designed to

Obviously this is patently untrue. There was, from the start, a genuine interest on the part of our authorities in creating the appropriate mechanisms to solve a problem that has loomed over our society for many years.

Concerns were expressed over the requirements, the time of validity, and the costs of some of the documents solicited for application to the plan.

Any flexibility in the fulfillment of the requirements would
create a wave of arrivals to the country aiming to avail themselves of the plan, with no guarantee whatsoever of having fulfilled the obligation to have resided in the national territory before 2011.

In terms of extension of the time limit, the plan was open for 18 months. A year and a half is a reasonable period to obtain documents supporting a presence in the Dominican Republic.

In short, although various organizations and media outlets prepared
themselves to organize a campaign to discredit our country after the expiry of the period for the Regularization Plan, it’s clear that their intentions were once again founded on nothing more than myths and fallacies.

It is false that as a result of the application of this plan masses of individuals have been stripped of their Dominican nationality; that there are stateless persons in our territory; that there have been racist and discriminatory practices, an
ethnic “cleansing,” or a civil genocide; or that we have installed a system of apartheid or stimulus of negrophobia.

None of that is true. The only thing that has happened is that the period to take advantage of the plan has closed. And even still, those who did not meet the conditions have the opportunity to go through the ordinary procedure to obtain a visa and residence in the Dominican Republic.

The rest has been nothing more
than an attempt to degrade and disparage us before the international community. And as a generous and caring people, we do not deserve that.