For Haitian Refugees, Aftershocks Include Deportations

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When a massive earthquake destroyed Haitian cities, security and infrastructure nearly twenty months ago, the international community extended aid toward refugees and reconstruction. Since the initial surge of sympathy, however, support has significantly waned, especially from its closest neighbor. Although the Dominican Republic was a benevolent first responder after the quake, the Dominican government recently ordered mass deportations of Haitian immigrants, reported the New York Times. Though smaller deportations began in January of 2011, August has seen not only an increased amount of forced relocation, but also a disturbing hostility in law enforcement officials’ treatment of refugees.

Dominican distrust and prejudice toward Haitians is nothing new, and many of the prejudices remain. Twentieth-century dictators like Rafael Trujillo executed countless Haitian people, justifying heinous acts with claims of racial superiority and a natural right of conquest. The decades of intolerance linger: Sarah Childress of Global Post wrote that since the period of increased Haitian migration following the earthquake, Dominicans have blamed Haitians for increased crime, cholera outbreaks, and the loss of Dominican jobs. Officials are now deporting en masse, often using skin color as a pretext to send anyone over the western border of Hispaniola, Randal Archibold of the New York Times reported.

Feelings on repatriation among Haitians remain mixed. Some are hesitant to return to a devastated homeland mired in anarchy as President Martelly experiences political lockout in his attempts to create a new government, Archibold says. Others long to return home, weary of Dominican subjugation and mistreatment. Regardless, the new deportations, born of international apathy and racism, are a heartbreaking development in the ongoing tragedy of the Haitian earthquake aftermath.