Erased: Why Tens of Thousands of Haitian Youth Do Not Officially Exist

Dominican laws have stripped citizenship from many young people of Haitian descent, barring them from legal employment, education, even marriage.

Ethnic Haitians have played a vital role in the development of the Dominican Republic. Haitians have been the backbone of the sugar industry, working as braceros or cane-cutters, and in recent years they have made invaluable contributions to the construction and service industry. But deep-rooted racism and discrimination towards people of Haitian origin have been a part of society in the Dominican Republic since the late 1920s.

It is estimated that between 500,000 and one million people of Haitian ancestry currently live in the Dominican Republic, including tens of thousands of children and young adults who were born in the country. Yet changes to migration laws in 2004, governmental directives in 2007, and a change in the Constitution of the Dominican Republic in 2010 have denied or retroactively stripped Dominican citizenship away from tens of thousands of Dominico-Haitian youth. Human rights groups see these legal and policy changes as specifically targeting those of Haitian descent. As a result, these residents find themselves unable to access opportunities afforded to other Dominican citizens, such as legal employment, access to social services, or the right continue their education and to legally marry.

While the situation in the Dominican Republic has now gained the attention of the Inter-American courts and international human rights organizations, it remains the largest case of statelessness in the Western hemisphere.


This story was reported with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Greg Constantine is an award-winning freelance photographer from the United States.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Global

Just In