As tensions between the Dominican Republic and their neighbor Haiti continue to escalate over migrant concerns, the United States has put out a travel warning for those planning trips to the country in 2023. The travel alert goes as follows:
“This message is to advise U.S. citizens that in recent months travelers to the Dominican Republic have reported being delayed, detained, or subject to heightened questioning at ports of entry and in other encounters with immigration officials based on their skin color. Reports of disparate treatment of U.S. citizens by Dominican authorities are a matter of ongoing concern to the U.S. Embassy.”
Dominican Migration Agents have been detaining those that they believe to be undocumented migrants and, in particular, targeting people that they believe are of Haitian descent. The U.S. Embassy states that in some cases, authorities in the Dominican Republic have not respected the legal status or nationality of persons attempting to enter the country.
The alert, which was published on November 19th, 2022, comes in the wake of rising tension between the two countries. The Dominican Republic has reported that they have deported 43,900 Haitians from the country between July and October 2022, with no sign of that number slowing down any time soon.
Along with the volume of deportations happening, human rights organizations have condemned the Dominican Republic’s handling of the arrests, saying that prisoners are often kept in unsanitary and unsafe conditions before being deported back to their home country.
The country is currently defending itself against these accusations. In a recently released statement from the Dominican Republic ministry of foreign affairs, they state, “The Dominican government never could have imagined there would be such a harsh insinuation made about our country, much less from an ally that has been subject to accusations of xenophobic and racist treatment of migrants, including in parts of its own population.”
The influx of Haitian migrants into the Dominican Republic comes at a time of Economic turmoil in Haiti. According to the Observer Research Foundation, Haiti is currently facing its most dire crisis, possibly in the history of the country.
Hunger and security have become a huge issue since a 7.2 magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc on the country over a year ago, on August 14th, 2021. On top of the damage from the earthquake, the country has been impacted by an estimated 26% inflation rate which is causing even basic goods to be out of reach for the poorest citizens of the country. Finally, food shortages have caused widespread hunger as a result of decreased imports resulting from the Ukraine and Russia war.
The situation in Haiti has caused many to flee to neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares a 240-mile border with the country. These illegal crossings are causing the Dominican Republic to increase police presence and scrutiny of those who look like they are of Haitian descent, even if they are actually citizens of the United States.
To combat the profiling and stifle any issues before they arise, The U.S. government suggests that all citizens carry their passports on them at all times when in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, it is important to know how to reach the embassy if anything goes wrong. The information for the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic is as follows:
U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo, Av. República de Colombia 57, Santo Domingo
Non-emergency inquiries: [email protected]
State Department – Consular Affairs: 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) to stay up to date on any further travel alerts!
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