In September 2013, the Dominican Republic passed TC168/13, a law that permanently annulled the citizenship of children born to “undocumented parents,” going back to 1929. This law directly impacted the children of Haitian immigrants who have been brought into to the Dominican Republic as laborers for the past 80 years, a practice initiated by the Dominican state-sponsored sugar industry. Hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent are now facing the inability to go to school, obtain work, travel, vote, and exercise other civil rights. Where are the denationalized people in the Dominican Republic? What are they experiencing each day as they attempt to navigate the current limitations on their rights? How does one survive without citizenship rights in the country in which they were born?
Working with Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, BCRW Advisory Board member Miriam Neptune has organized a variety of events, workshops, and materials that build on her film Birthright Crisis, bringing together activists and educators from Haitian and Dominican diasporic groups to bring awareness to advocates for citizenship and human rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent. In 2012, Neptune organized a panel to honor human rights leader Sonia Pierre and discuss strategies for carrying on her work. Soon after Pierre’s death in 2011, a large protest was held outside of the Dominican Supreme Court. Hundreds of young people carried signs proclaiming “We are Dominican, We are Sonia Pierre”. Since then, several young women of Haitian descent have emerged as some of the most recognized voices in a movement to retain the citizenship rights of the children and grandchildren of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic. Altagracia Jean Joseph, a young lawyer who has had to fight to retain her citizenship, spoke at Barnard in October 2014 to share the experiences of those left in limbo when the state refused to process their citizenship paperwork.
Links and Resources
Next Steps in the Struggle for Citizenship in the Dominican Republic. Written by Miriam Neptune, January 14, 2013.
Teaching Birthright Crisis. A Curriculum for Educators. Developed by Miriam Neptune for Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees.
Birthright Crisis 2013, an award winning film produced by Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and directed by Miriam Neptune.
How Does It Feel to Be Stateless? with Altagracia Jean Joseph, October 1, 2014.
Sonia Pierre and the Struggle for Citizenship in the Dominican Republic with Manuela (Solange) Pierre, Ninaj Raoul, Monisha Bajaj, Minerva Leticia Solange, and Miriam Neptune (moderator).