Video Produced by Ford Fischer

About 200 activists marched through Washington, D.C. on Monday in protest of the Dominican Republic impending forced expulsion of thousands of Dominican-born Haitians.

The march, led by the Association of Haitian Professionals and attended by Maryland State Senator Victor R. Ramirez and IMG_6696Haitian presidential candidate Charles Henri Baker, began at Dupont Circle and ended in front of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic. For an hour on Monday evening, busy Massachusetts Avenue was filled with cries of “Human rights know no borders,” and “Misma isla, misma raza” – Spanish for “Same island, same race.”

The outcry comes as Dominican authorities appear ready to begin mass deportations of Haitians at virtually any moment. The dilemma facing Dominican Haitians today stems from a 2013 law making people born to undocumented foreigners after 1929 ineligible for Dominican nationality – effectively rendering the country’s more than 200,000 people of Haitian descent stateless.

In May 2014, the Dominican government sought to pave the way for Haitian descendants to reapply for Dominican nationality if they wished to legally remain in the country. The deadline for that application passed on June 17, with an overwhelming majority of the country’s stateless Haitians unable to sign up and now facing possible deportation.

The looming exodus has led immigration activists and international groups to accuse the Dominican government of human rights violations, and even racism. During today’s march, some demonstrators waved signs with messages including “Stop racist deportation,” and “Not 1 more racist deportation from DR,” and stood at the steps of the Dominican Republic’s embassy near Dupont Circle calling on Santo Domingo to reconsider its current policies.

IMG_6695

Charles Baker, Haitian presidential candidate, said he believed the Dominican government’s stance towards Haitian immigration to be “illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional.” Maryland State Senator Victor Ramirez called for a tougher response against the Dominican government.

“I think it’s an atrocity, a disaster. I think the Dominican government needs to be held accountable,” Ramirez said, “I think we here in the United States need to bring some attention to what’s going on.”

To close, protest leaders asked those gathered to spread the word about human rights and governments which seek to violate them. After all, they said to much applause, “You don’t need visas or passports to be a human being.”

Article and Photos by Alejandro Alvarez