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Dominican leader, activists discuss court decision

October 8, 2013

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic’s president met Monday with a small group of activists who are fighting against a court ruling that strips citizenship from the children of migrant workers.

Ana Maria Belique, spokeswoman for a nonprofit group that has fought for the rights of children born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian migrant workers, said the talk with President Danilo Medina offered a “glimmer of hope” for the activists.

Last month, the Caribbean country’s Constitutional Court ruled that it will block citizenship for thousands of people born to immigrants without residency permits since 1929. Human rights activists say this could affect more than 200,000 people, the bulk of them Dominican-born people of Haitian descent.

United Nations officials met with Medina last month and asked him to meet with the activists.

Belique, who is the Dominican-born daughter of Haitian migrant workers, said the activists shared their stories with Medina. Another activist, Antonio Pol-Emil, said the president did not offer any immediate solutions to their predicament.

Medina’s office did not issue any statement about the meeting.

The court ruling has aggravated uneasy relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola.

Haiti has said it “strongly disagrees” with the ruling and recalled its ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s foreign affairs ministry asserts that the court decision violates international laws and agreements, including a 2005 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Dominican officials have promised to create a path to legal residency for people whose birth certificates are voided, but have provided no details on how that might work.

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