The United States has issued an alert for darker-skinned Americans visiting the Dominican Republic, warning that they might be profiled and wrongfully detained if mistaken for Haitians.
A crackdown on Haitian immigrants has led Dominican officials to approach anyone in the country who look to be of Haitian descent. This means all persons with melanated skin are at risk of being confronted by police, according to the U.S. embassy. According to the agency, which sent out the notice on Saturday, November 19th, those detained are locked in “overcrowded detention centers” with little or no access to food and restrooms.
However, Dominican officials fired back at the embassy, calling its advisory “manifestly unfounded, untimely.” They pointed out their long-standing relationship with the U.S., reiterating that the government would never purposefully target visitors for their skin color.
The country has been called out for some time regarding the mass deportations of Haitians. A new report found that hundreds of Haitian children were expelled from the Dominican without their parents. Videos have surfaced showing officers brutalizing Haitians since President Louis Abinader launched an aggressive initiative to purge the county of anyone illegally living in the Dominican.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, pleaded to suspend deportations of Haitians, noting the humanitarian crises they’re currently facing in the embattled country. Haiti remains in turmoil, with increased gang violence, a cholera outbreak, and continued unrest following the murder of president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Yet, the Dominican has vowed to send anyone back to the country who arrives without proper documentation and without plans to seek legal residency.