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New York Dominicans Call Their Homeland’s Citizenship Ruling Racist

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A recent court ruling in the Dominican Republic instantly stripped tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants of their Dominican citizenship, even if they were born there decades ago. Some are calling the ruling racist and a violation of human rights, prompting protests from New York City to the Caribbean. NY1’s Arlene Borenstein filed a second report on the ruling.

"I'm not from the outside, I was born here!" chants a group rallying in the Dominican Republic.

It's a message prompted by the country's decision to revoke the citizenship of people whose parents, grandparents, possibly even great-grandparents originally entered the country without proper papers going all the way back to 1929.

They're finding support here in New York.

"Bring some change to this and actually bring some justice to folks who are being criminalized for something that they have nothing to do with,” said Ryan A.M. Hamilton of “We Are All Dominican.”

The group Hamilton is part of, “We Are All Dominican” is a group of graduate students and educators who say the decision by the country's Constitutional Tribunal mainly impacts generations of Dominicans with roots across the border in Haiti.

"It’s not like the U.S. where there was segregation or apartheid in South Africa. There hasn't been many legal race-based restrictions on people’s rights, but it's a place where race has really determined outcomes for a lot of people in the Dominican Republic that’s definitely been the case,” said Yanilda Gonzalez of “We Are All Dominican.”

Proponents say the ruling only enforces what's already in the Dominican Constitution, but opponents say it's a frightening manifestation of centuries old, racial tension.

"...similar to what we saw with the rise of Nazism and Hitler in German. What people are doing. How people are reacting. How people are attacking Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, how they’re being attacked physically, legally in social spaces,” said Manuela Arciniegas of “We Are All Dominican.”

The organization held a march through Manhattan over the weekend. Now, they're planning a citywide event at the CUNY Graduate Center on December 5.

The group says a major part of organizing this event is not just so the community can hear their voices, but for Dominicans of all backgrounds know they have a voice too.
“They'll be able to give video testimony to be sent to elected officials in Dominican Republic,” said Arciniegas.

The Tribunal meets again next month to decide how, and how forcefully, to implement the ruling.

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