Photo: Dominican Republic Congress
The Dominican lower house approved on Friday a bill to extend legal residence to the Dominican-born children of undocumented migrants.
The bill was passed unanimously in two consecutive readings after lawmakers decided to fast-track the measure introduced Thursday by President Danilo Medina’s government.
The measure now goes to the Senate, which, if it approves the measure unchanged, will make it into law and forward it to the chief executive for enactment.
The initiative, which will mostly benefit the children of migrants from neighboring Haiti, offers a “fair solution” to a problem created by “a cycle of irregularities,” the administration said.
The country’s Constitutional Court ruled last September that the children of undocumented foreigners are not Dominicans, a decision that was rejected by a large part of the international community and divided public opinion inside the Dominican Republic.
The bill is designed to respond to the promise to find a “humanitarian, measured and responsible” solution to the dilemma surrounding people born in the Dominican Republic whose parents are of foreign origin and are in the country illegally, said the Medina administration.
Dominican officials estimate that around 1 million Haitians live in the country, most of them illegal immigrants who work in agriculture and construction.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.
Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugar cane.
Haitians have been the target of mob violence numerous times in recent years and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants.
Thousands of Haitians fled to the Dominican Republic after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people on Jan. 12, 2010, and displaced more than 1 million others.