Trending topic: US Embassy note on migration checks

El Dia newspaper cartoon on 22 November 2022

The Dominican government, through the Ministry of Foreign Relations, rejected the wording of the US Embassy note: “Alert: Ongoing Dominican Migration Enforcement.” The note was uploaded to the US Embassy website on Saturday, 19 November 2022

The Ministry of Foreign Relations issued a statement whereby it says the country considers the note “unfounded, untimely and unfortunate.” The Ministry of Foreign Relations says that the terms of the note contradict the excellent bilateral relationship that exists between the Dominican Republic and the United States in all areas: political, economic, military, social and cooperation, whether in the areas of drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms and ammunition smuggling, corruption or the fight against impunity, among others.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations states:
“Our country is the first US trading partner in the Caribbean and the sixth in Latin America. We have been one of the United States’ most reliable allies in maintaining a free, open, prosperous and secure international system for all nations. In that spirit, we founded the Alliance for Development in Democracy to promote democratic values and human rights.

“Since the beginning of the present government, we have repeatedly and systematically denounced before the international community the alarming situation in Haiti, aggravated since the assassination of President Moise, without the international community having taken the appropriate measures to confront the explosive humanitarian, social and political situation in the neighboring country, which seriously affects the national security of the Dominican Republic.

“For several decades, the bulk of the burden has fallen, particularly in terms of migration, on our country. An important part of the current Dominican health budget is dedicated, free of charge, to the foreign population, primarily Haitian: 32.4% of maternity beds in our public hospitals; 10.3% of emergencies; 14.9% of hospital admissions; 9.8% of surgeries; 8.3% of consultations are to Haitian nationals.

“Without the support of the international community, we have made an extraordinary effort to keep the border open to allow the Haitian population access to vital foodstuffs, medicines, fuel, water, etc. We have also kept the flow of trade open, despite the number of kidnappings of Dominicans, including a diplomat from our embassy in Haiti. On the other hand, our armed forces unilaterally bear the high cost of providing security to the entire border between the two countries, maintaining some 9,000 troops there.

“Just as any sovereign country that repatriates its foreign population in an irregular migratory situation, including the US, the Dominican Republic has been forced to deport a large number of Haitian migrants who no longer tolerate the situation in that country and who subjugate Dominican possibilities. The Dominican Republic cannot take any more.

“In contrast, the Biden administration has deported more than 20,000 Haitian migrants to Haiti between February 2021 and February 2022.

“The US government has not provided any evidence, beyond anecdotal cases without independent verification, that there is a systematic pattern of violations of migrants’ rights ordered by Dominican authorities. Isolated cases could occur, as in any part of the world, which, if reported to the relevant authorities, would be investigated and duly sanctioned if proven to be true.

“The Dominican government would never have imagined such serious insinuations about our country, whose population evidences “in its skin color” a wide melting pot of races; much less from an ally that has been subject to numerous accusations of the xenophobic and racist treatment of migrants and even sectors of its own population.

“The Dominican Republic strives to provide hospitable treatment to the millions of tourists who visit us annually from the four corners of the globe, particularly from the United States. Our economy depends largely on the comfort and safety of each of these foreign visitors, of which more than 1.5 million have come from the United States this year, with overwhelmingly positive experiences, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

“The 19 November statement could negatively impact thousands of Dominican workers and our economy, although this was not its objective. Consequently, we hope that the US Government will consider withdrawing the unverified terms of this ambiguous note as soon as possible.

The wording of the US Embassy note is:
“Alert: Ongoing Dominican Migration Enforcement
“This message is to advise US 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 US citizens by Dominican authorities are a matter of ongoing concern to the US Embassy.

“In addition, in recent days, as reported in Dominican media, Dominican Migration (DGM) agents have conducted widespread operations aimed at detaining those they believe to be undocumented migrants, especially persons of Haitian descent. These actions may lead to increased interaction with Dominican authorities, especially for darker skinned US citizens and US citizens of African descent. In some cases, authorities have not respected these individuals’ legal status in the Dominican Republic or nationality. There are reports that detainees are kept in overcrowded detention centers, without the ability to challenge their detention, and without access to food or restroom facilities, sometimes for days at a time, before being released or deported to Haiti.

“Please report any such incidents immediately to the Embassy emergency number (809) 567-7775 and to the Defensor del Pueblo at (809) 381-7777.

The Embassy advises US citizens to:

  • Carry your passport with you.
  • Carry a charged cell phone and notify the Embassy immediately if you need assistance.”

In a follow up to the story, Hoy reporter interviewed the European Union ambassador to the Dominican Republic who said that each country has the right to manage its borders in a comprehensive manner. The diplomat said that border management should be done in full compliance with local laws and with international practices and standards for the protection of human rights.

Mauricio Ramirez Villegas, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the country, valued as legitimate that the Dominican government adheres to migratory laws. “It is absolutely legitimate to carry out the sections corresponding to the application of the law, even we as the United Nations System support the migration authorities,” he said. He emphasized that this must be done in compliance with the established norms related to the respect and protection of human rights. The representatives of both entities spoke during the inauguration of the solar energy electricity system at the European Union Offices.

The president of the Constitutional Court says that the note published by the US Embassy is distorted. Judge Milton Ray Guevara criticized the communiqué issued by the US Embassy on the treatment being given to its citizens who have a dark skin color.

Ray Guevara described the action as “a mistake” by the diplomatic representation in the country and said it is an attempt to stigmatize the government and the Dominican people.

He considered that there was no need for such an “aggravation.” The Dominican Republic is the main destination for US tourists. The country is also a melting pot for cultures and races from all around the world.

A former president of the National Business Council (Conep), Celso Marranzini called for a boycott to the Wednesday, 23 November American Chamber of Commerce luncheon in which US Embassy charge d’affaires Robert Thomas would be speaking.

The current president of Conep, Pedro Brache remarked the US Embassy note statements were “unfortunate and far from reality,” and called for the US Embassy to take actions to help resolve the multidimensional crisis in Haiti.

He remarked these were unwise statements. “The logical thing is that they retract and provide solutions because they have been but spectators to this crisis,” said Brache.

Brache said: “I believe that the international community has been timid in providing solutions and I believe that, particularly, the United States has been timid in offering solutions for this crisis in a country that we must all help to recover the path of democracy and therefore I believe that these statements are very ill-advised. They are statements that we do not know what is behind them. I believe that they should retract themselves. I believe that the logical thing is that they retract and provide solutions, not criticism.”

CNN reveals that US authorities have reported nearly 7,000 encounters with Haitian migrants in Florida in October, compared to just 1,188 in October 2021, according to US Customs and Border Patrol data. The agency reported nearly 57,000 encounters with Haitian migrants in Florida in 2022, an increase from nearly 49,000 the prior year.

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22 November 2022