IN LIMBOIn the Dominican Republic, Haitians and their descendants have existed at the margins of Dominican society. Long standing racial tensions and recent immigration policy changes have created conditions that place ethnic Haitians at risk of deportation and statelessness.
As a result, many ethnic Haitians who are left with limited options have fled the D.R.; many have been forcibly deported during immigration raids. Many of those who remain are no longer seen as Dominicans and are deprived of basic human rights such as education and security. Meanwhile in Haiti, settlements housing the displaced continue to swell along the border. Conditions at the camps are acute: disease, poverty and isolation plague these communities.
As I write this, they continue to live in limbo.
The UN Refugee Agency estimates that approximately 133,000 ethnic Haitians effectively exist stateless in the D.R. They live without clear and accessible pathways to citizenship-- children born in the D.R. to Haitian mothers are at the highest risk of deportation and statelessness.
This issue is complex and bureaucratic. But what can be easily understood is that the Dominican civil registry has no record of their existence, however, this portrait series confirms the contrary— giving a face to the tens of thousands affected.
Dominique Maline, 39, lived in the Dominican Republic for 10 years without papers and did not register. Without papers he wasn’t able to get a legitimate job. He had eight children and now he has seven because he recently lost his son to cholera which is widespread in the settlement where he lives. He moved his family to the camp after facing threats that his small farm and house would be burned down. All his children are currently sick and he doesn’t have the money for medicine to take them to the local hospital. (irregular migrant)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti-- Emani Escaliste, 35 years old, has her hair done by one of her daughters, Sara Noel, 6 years old, where she now lives at a settlement along the Haiti/Dominican border with her five children. She came to the camp from La Mercedes, Dominican Republic after she was threatened and her house was burnt down. Her children were all born in the Dominican Republic but have been since declared residents of Haiti.
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, camp 1- Simile Francia, 19 years holds her 18-day old baby Dabeus Pierre. Francia was born in the Dominican Republic. She has no identity papers and does not know the heritage of her parents. Her baby was born the Haitian displacement camp where she now lives after leaving D.R. because she had been threatened by people with machetes. (GROUP B Status)
Batey “El Prado”, Dominican Republic: Dani Poliep, 23, is an irregular Haitian migrant who works in a sugarcane plantation. Dani migrated to the Dominican Republic in 2005. She doesn’t have the documents required to enter into the National Regularization Plan- the current registration process for migrants. She says she feels discouraged from going through the arduous process of getting the required papers due to racism she experienced at the local government offices in El Seibo. She is worried about the nationality of her unborn child and her other child who is currently considered stateless-- without documents in D.R. and Haiti.
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti- Peres Antonio Ines, 52, has been living at a displacement camp for 2 months. He had been living in D.R. for 6 years until his Dominican neighbours started making death threats and he fled to Haiti. When asked if he completed the migrant regularization process in the D.R., he said "the requirements were too difficult. That's why I didn't do it."
El Seibo, Dominican Republic: Felipe Pie Monaus is 17 years and was born in the Dominican Republic. Felipe has been registered in the National Naturalization Plan for Dominican born children of Haitian descent but has not yet received his documents. As a result, he can no longer continue school because he lacks the necessary identification documents. Since he cannot attend school he works in the sugarcane fields. He feels the government’s targeting of Haitian immigrants and their descendants is driven by racism and that they are asking for too many documents to meet the criteria.
El Seibo, Dominican Republic: Amantine Gabriel migrated to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugarcane fields 30 years ago and says she no longer knows anyone in Haiti. Years ago her Dominican residency was sponsored by the company she was laboring for- a common practice. No longer valid, she successfully registered in the National Regularization Plan and has been given a temporary residency permit. It is valid for only one year.
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti- Isolena Franco, 39 years old, was raped at a young age and is not able to have children because of the violent incident. She didn’t report this to the police because she and her family felt that Haitians had no rights in the Dominican Republic. She came to the displacement camp in Haiti in June 2015 because she felt that her life was threatened if she didn’t leave. She migrated to the community of Aguas Negras, Dominican Republic with her mother when she was seven years old and received her temporary residency on June 7, 2016. She has 1 year to complete the process. (Irregular Migrant)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti- Lissainville Clauvil (12) and Emanuel Delbyu (9) were both born in Dominican Republic. They both miss their home in the Dominican. Both their parents are Haitian and the boys are now in possession of Haitian documents.
(formerly group B- Now Haitian)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti - Jean Julien, 13, is from from the Dominican Republic. His parents are Haitian agricultural workers. He came to the camp after having left because his neighbours were making death threats with axes and machetes. He has completed third grade in the Dominican Republic school system and dreams of becoming a teacher.
(Group B, Stateless)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti- Esaia Noel, 27 year old. He doesn’t know anyone in Haiti and came to this displacement camp because he was told he had to leave because he is of Haitian descent. His identity documents were burned in the fire but he says he has a Dominican birth certificate. He didn’t try to register in the National Naturalization Plan, because it was too expensive for him to travel to the office. He had already spent money to get some of the required documentation and couldn't afford the additional 8,000 pesos which was requested for the remaining papers. He was making 6,000 pesos per month. He feels that people at the office made it harder for him to the required documents because of the color of his skin. (Irregular migrant status)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti- Rene Ritha, 27 years, holds her three-month old twin babies Jean Francky and Jean Fransy. She registered in the Naturalization Plan- the government’s nationalization process for those born in the D.R. whose birth was never registered and was given a temporary residency card. She feels she will not be able to fulfill the requirements the Dominican government is asking of her to naturalize as a Dominican citizen. The twins, have Dominican birth certificates. Her other children, however, do not have any Dominican documentation. Four of her children were born at home. She is of Haitian descent and her children’s father is born in Haiti. She left because she felt threatened by police and the media. She says that the threats made her feel of less value than those with identification cards.
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, - Merizier Carole, 26 years, was born in Dominican Republic and is now living with Tuberculosis at displacement camp in Haiti along the Dominican border. She is completely undocumented as she lost her Haitian papers and does not have Dominican identity documents. She was born in D.R. and her parents are of Haitian descent. Her father died in the earthquake in Haiti.
(GROUP B stateless status)
Guaymate, Dominican Republic: — Robert Caseis, 22, was born in Dominican Republic to parents of Haitian descent. He feels he is routinely stopped by municipal and migration police because of the colour of his skin. He cites an incident where his vehicle was impounded and he was detained because he did not have his identity papers. Although his birth was registered with the Dominican government, he has been waiting for 4 years for his documents.
(Group A Status)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, Camp 1: December 4, 2015- Jovina Terrello, 15, (right) who was born in Dominican Republic is now stateless and living in a displacement camp for the past five months. She lives with her mother Incecia Noel, 37 years, (left) and her newly born child Naika. Although born in the D.R., Jovina’s birth was never registered with Dominican authorities and as a result is not a documented citizen there. She misses her home and family in the D.R. as she has lived there her whole life and doesn’t know anyone in Haiti. Naika, has a Haitian Birth Certification. Jovina plans on returning to the D.R. to try to complete the requirements for the National Naturalization Plan- the government’s nationalization process for those born in the D.R. whose birth was never registered. She and her mother left because they felt threatened from repeated reports on the radio asking Haitians to leave that did not have proper identification. (GROUP B- STATELESS)
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, - Eduard Pierre Pascal, 27, is the person responsible for the displacement camp where he lives . He was born in Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, he was a business owner in the Dominican before he returned to Haiti to care for his ill father. Born in the Dominican Republic, Eduard hasn't become a citizen of the Dominican Republic because he says he cannot afford the expenses of the Naturalization Plan- the government’s nationalization process for those born in the D.R. whose birth was never registered(GROUP B)