By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
IMMIGRATION Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday shrugged off concerns that immigration challenges between the Dominican Republic and Haiti could lead to an increase in illegal immigration to the Bahamas.
Following the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court ruling that retroactively stripped migrant children of their citizenship, the deadline for foreigners to legalise their status in the Dominican Republic expires today – an initiative that affects an estimated 500,000 undocumented persons.
Last year, the Dominican Republican government passed legislation that softened the court ruling by allowing persons born to undocumented foreign parents an opportunity to request residency permits as foreigners, with the option to apply for naturalisation after two years.
Yesterday, local and international media reported that the Dominican Republic Army had turned over border facilities to the Immigration Agency to accommodate the hundreds of undocumented persons set to be rounded up, and assist in their repatriation.
According to Dominican Today, “Army Commander José Matos on Tuesday revealed that 2,000 soldiers have been trained in humanitarian work, taught the Haitian Creole language and in other areas since November, to support the Immigration Agency’s work.”
In response to questions over possible implications for the country, Mr Mitchell said: “There are none. I also drew attention to this story to the foreign minister of the Dominican Republic and he denies the assertions in the story.”