Report | Global Worker Rights

Discrimination and Denationalization in the Dominican Republic

In September 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Court determined that individuals who are unable to prove their parents’ regular migration status can be retroactively stripped of their Dominican citizenship. For the many potential victims of this shameful policy who were born in the Dominican Republic, it means being barred from participating in the only society they have ever known. Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian immigrants are a critical source of cheap labor, and the deliberate creation of a stateless underclass increases the already formidable risks of exploitation. Workers without documentation cannot enter the formal economy and are pushed into dangerous, low-wage work. Workers are more dependent on their employers, less likely to report abuse and face the threat of deportation if they seek help from government officials. They are not recognized as members of trade unions, leaving them without a voice on the job or access to the pensions or social security systems that they contribute to. Stateless children often have trouble registering for high school and are more likely to end up working in the worst forms of child labor. This report briefly shares the stories of Dominicans of Haitian descent who are struggling to maintain their status, pursue higher education, seek opportunities for meaningful work and career advancement, obtain justice against abusive employers, and ensure their children are recognized as citizens and have access to critical services.

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