Dominican Republic Deportations: Will GOP Do The Same In U.S.? (VIDEO)
Wednesday, June 17th will pass, and anyone who is undocumented and lives in the Dominican Republic faces deportation after that deadline. The vast majority of those affected by this deadline are from neighboring Haiti, leading to claims that the law is meant to racially discriminate against black immigrants. Further complicating matters is a 2013 court ruling which stated that the children of undocumented immigrants born in the Dominican Republic are not eligible for citizenship. The Dominican government has a process for allowing immigrants to obtain papers and settle in the country legally, but that process is notoriously slow and cumbersome to the point that many think government officials are slowing it down to discourage immigration and to make staying in the country more difficult for those who are not already citizens or documented.
CENTURIES OF TENSION AND RACIAL ANIMOSITY BETWEEN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND HAITI
These problems go back centuries on the island that contains the Dominican Republic and Haiti: in 1492, Columbus’ three ships “discovered” the island, which was certainly news to the Taino people who’d been there for thousands of years. Spanish conquistadors colonized the island, which they named Hispaniola, and destroyed the native population through disease and slave labor. This led to replacing the devastated native population with the use of African slave labor, first in gold mines and later on sugar plantations. France took control of what is now Haiti in 1659, and ruled it through brutal repression until the Haitian revolution resulted in independence for Haiti and the abolition of slavery. The fact that Haiti abolished slavery first, and that the Haitian victory over Napoleon’s troops led to Napoleon deciding to abandon his whole empire in North America and sell it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase, is a fact not usually taught to American students whose country doubled in size as a result. In 1821, Spain was thrown out of what is now the Dominican Republic and the entire island unified under the Haitian government. Dominican leaders sought to win independence on their own terms, which they did in 1844, leading to decades of war against Haiti and repressive military regimes at home.
The tense situation between the two nations that share Hispaniola worsened under brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo, who came to power in 1930 and massacred as many as 35,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic in 1937. Trujillo used police terror, assassinations, deportations against Haitians and encouraged white immigration, including welcoming 100,000 European Jews to the country during World War II, to change the racial demographics. In typical Cold War fashion, the United States supported Trujillo right through his worst atrocities because he was anti-Communist. Trujillo’s assassination in 1961 led to a leftist government winning election two years later, ultimately leading to Lyndon Johnson sending in U.S. Marines in 1965 to prevent the island from becoming a “Second Cuba.”
Given this history, it’s not difficult to see why the Haitian community across the Americas, human rights organizations and journalists are worried that the deportation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic will result in a form of ethnic cleansing of the Dominican Republic. Deporting thousands of Haitian workers and their families, including people that were born on the Dominican Republic, will require police state tactics that hearken back to the bad old days in the Dominican Republic. Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere which is still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake, can ill afford to take in thousands of people who left seeking opportunity abroad. This is a humanitarian catastrophe in the making which would surely draw more attention from the United States’ media if only the Dominican Republic had oil.
IS THIS WHAT THE GOP WANTS FOR THE UNITED STATES?
We’ve all heard the arguments from conservative politicians and their right wing mouthpieces on TV and radio: Shut down the border with Mexico! Deport the illegals! The Democrats only favor immigration to win votes! Obamacare is giving health insurance to illegal aliens! These illegals are criminals who are taking our jobs! As Sam Seder pointed out on his June 16th show, the newly announced candidate Donald Trump will be (justifiably) ridiculed for his boorish personality, but on issues like immigration he’s really in line with current GOP thought in terms of wanting a wall lined with armed guards between the U.S. and Mexico. Bill O’Reilly has called numerous times for all “illegals” to be deported and has a history of shouting down guests who call for compassion and humanity toward the more than 11 million people who came to the United States looking for a better life. The Tea Party movement lists deporting “illegal aliens” first on its list of non-negotiable core principles. This makes for good rhetoric for those extreme GOP factions that need to find a marginalized and powerless group to blame our country’s problems on, but the reality is that removing 11 million (or more) people from our country by force would require tearing up the Constitution’s due process and trial by jury sections and creating an economic, poiltical and humanitarian catastrophe that will benefit no one and be tragic for millions. Let’s look for candidates who will sign a reasoned immigration policy, not a bellicose extremist who will pander to the worst instincts of their base for votes.