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Dominican Republic’s New Immigration Bill

The U.S. isn’t the only nation grappling with the challenges of immigration reform, along with the complexities of addressing the undocumented who live within their borders. U.S lawmakers know well that there is no simple solution or policy to fix immigration issues today.

The Dominican Republic is also facing these same challenges, their Constitutional Court ruling on citizenship has sparked controversy and heated debates among regional governments and civil societies, including within Dominican and Haitian communities residing in the South of Florida.

As a matter of fact, the difficult challenges that Dominican Republic faces to adhere by the court ruling and implement a clear and transparent immigration policy are pretty much the same to the ones the U.S. is confronting right now.

Sadly, much of the debates today about  Dominican Republic’s approach on addressing the immigration issue, has been characterized by misrepresentation and inaccurate information. Rumors about deportation and de-naturalizations have spread across Latin America which are not only untrue, but haven’t happened.

With so much rumors and misinformation circulating in Dominican Republic and surrounding Latin American countries, we really need to do our homework and not just get our news by word of mouth.


Events Since The Court Ruling

Since September 2013, the supreme court in Dominican Republic’s constitutional affairs have ruled that those classed as living in “transit”, or those living in the country who cannot prove their legal status, are now given the opportunity to naturalize their immigration status.

This ruling is to affect a sizable portion of Dominican population that are currently lacking documentation, and undocumented people from more than 120 countries who are currently residing in the Dominican Republic. This includes a significant number of immigrants of Haitian descent.

Since the court ruling, the Dominican government has created a “Regularization Plan” to positively improve the condition of the undocumented people living in the country. This plan provides a temporary status for the undocumented, and paves the way for them to acquire a temporary residency, a non-resident visa or permanent residency, depending on each individual’s conditions.

To be clear, no one who is currently holding or is entitled to legal or rightful Dominican nationality, will be deprived of it.

By implementing the “Regularization Plan” over the next 18 months, the Dominican government will be able to normalise and integrate the migratory status of about 435,000 people in the country, it will allow those who were stateless to acquire a legal status in the Dominican Republic.

In addition to the Plan, the Dominican government has submitted a new law to Congress, that has opened up the path to citizenship for individuals who were born to undocumented foreigners in Dominican territory and have proven to have deep roots in the country.


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