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Dominican Republic: bishop laments court decision on citizenship of immigrant children

Catholic World News - October 28, 2013

A bishop in the Dominican Republic lamented a high court decision that retroactively strips the children of illegal Haitian immigrants of their legal status as citizens if they were born in the Dominican Republic as early as 1929.

The New York Times explained that a 2010 constitutional amendment

excludes the Dominican-born children of those in the country illegally, including seasonal and temporary workers, from Dominican citizenship. The new court decision not only ratifies the change, but also goes a step further by ordering officials to audit the nation’s birth records, compile a list of people who should not qualify for citizenship and notify embassies when a person’s nationality is in question.

Legal experts, as well as two dissenting judges on the constitutional court, called it a violation of legal principles to retroactively apply the standard of citizenship established in the 2010 Constitution.

“Some of them have lived in the country for 30 or 40 years, with a family,” said Bishop Rafael Leónidas Felipe y Núñez of Barahona, according to the Fides news agency. “Others have been here for two generations, children and grandchildren, who were born here. If these people have been living in the country for such a long time they know nothing about Haiti, they are, therefore, Dominicans.”

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