Melila, a 30-year-old Haitian national, moved to the Dominican Republic to study medicine 12 years ago. She found love, got married, and had four children with a Dominican citizen. But when her mother sent her money to complete the naturalization process, her request was denied.
A few weeks ago, she and her family packed up their bags and “self-deported” from the country that they’ve called home. They likely face hurdles ahead. All four of Melila’s children were born in the Dominican Republic “and had never been to Haiti and do not speak Creole or French,” her cousin, Marie Dorelus, told ThinkProgress. “Her husband barely speaks Creole.”
The family is now supported by Melila’s mother in Haiti.
Melila’s exodus from the Dominican Republic comes at a time when the Dominican government has begun forcibly removing Haitians and other Dominicans of Haitian descent, as part of an effort to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s highest court ruled to retroactively exclude citizenship to children of Haitian migrants born after 1929, whose births were never registered in the country. After international outcry, the country adopted a new law — known as the National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE) — allowing people born to undocumented parents to request residency permits as foreigners.
The Dominican government gave immigrants until last month to register with the authorities under the PNRE or face deportation proceedings. via | ThinkProgress