Adriano Espaillat visited the Dominican Republic this week, where he met with the President and praised Dominican policies that have stripped hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.
The Dominican Republic raised the ire and eyebrows of the world last September when it instituted a new law that retroactively denationalized approximately 210,000 people born in the country since 1929, on the grounds that their parents were not properly registered with the government. The law primarily affects people of Haitian descent, and is the most recent manifestation of antihaitianismo, the racist ideology of Dominican supremacy that has a long, bloody history of murder and dispossession of the Haitian minority.
International tribunals and human rights organizations were aghast at the humanitarian implications of the new law, which would deprive children of the right to attend school, and deny civil rights to many thousands of people who had been born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Kerry Kennedy, of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, called the Dominican high court’s affirmation of the law’s constitutionality “one of the most discriminatory rulings ever made by a superior tribunal.” And the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights labeled the ruling “disastrous.”
Bowing to international pressure, the Dominican Republic this May passed a new Naturalization Law which restores citizenship to some 25,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent who had in fact been enrolled in the National Registry. But the law still leaves many tens of thousands of people who were born in the Dominican Republic effectively stateless. International observers universally regard the new Dominican law as a cynical ploy to regain standing in the eyes of the world.
Senator Espaillat is a willing puppet in the Dominican Republic’s PR charade. Meeting on Monday, June 2 with President Danilo Medina, Espaillat praised the new law, saying that it had put a “human face” (una cara humana) on the original legislation. Furthermore, Espaillat is reported to have said that official Dominican policy regarding denationalized Dominicans of Haitian descent “should serve as an example for many countries today discussing immigration reform (debería servir de ejemplo para muchos países que hoy discuten reformas migratorias.)" Espaillat posted this article to his Twitter account, and appears not to have any problems with its accuracy.
The Dominican Republic dedicated this week to propounding its humanity. Ambassador to the US Anibal de Castro penned an editorial praising the DR’s commitment to justice, and the Dominican representative to the Organization of American States staged a photo-op where he presented the OAS Secretary-General with a copy of the new law. Senator Espaillat appears to have been part of the road show: his trip to Santo Domingo does not seem to have had any other purpose other than to give cover to the Dominican government’s legislative mockery of the rights of man.
Imagine if the United States decided to retroactively withdraw birthright citizenship from anyone whose parents were undocumented, back to 1929, and then regard such people as ineligible to attend school, obtain work authorization, get travel documents, or register the births of their children. That is precisely the situation for as many as 180,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic today.
It is grotesque that Adriano Espaillat, who has made a great deal of noise as a defender of the rights of undocumented immigrants to the United States, was happy to take time out of his run for Congress in order to heap praise on an egregious, racist law with untold human cost.
UPDATE: It is has been brought to my attention that Rep. Charles Rangel also supports DR Law 169-14, and took a picture with President Danilo Medina, smiling and congratulating him. It has never been the position of City Council Watch that Congressman Rangel was a better choice than Adriano Espaillat...the two of them seem pretty odious.