State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry today issued a statement criticizing the government of the Dominican Republic for its plan to target undocumented Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent for possible deportation amid a building international outcry prompted by what many have termed a violation of international law and human rights.
Forry, a first generation Haitian-American and the only person of Haitian descent to hold state elected office in Massachusetts called for collective action among the Haitian diaspora living abroad to use their economic and political influence to halt the actions. Forry called on Haitian-Americans and their allies to suspend vacation plans in the Dominican Republic until the government there "changes course."
"It is time for us to send a collective and clear message that we expect the Dominican Republic to treat its citizens with respect," said Senator Forry, who represents Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and South Boston in the Senate's First Suffolk district. The potential for a humanitarian crisis is real and a responsible, compassionate government would pause and choose another course. That is precisely what I call on the leaders of the Dominican Republic to do."
Forry becomes the latest American leader to speak out loudly on the issue. Yesterday, Mayor Martin Walsh on Boston called it "disheartening and troubling to see a neighboring country target a minority group for exclusion.
"I urge Dominican leaders to reverse course and recognize the tremendous value of diversity and inclusion for any nation. We stand with the Haitian community in Boston and abroad.," said Walsh.
Sen. Forry recently returned from a visit to Haiti. In her statement, she advised Haitian-Americans that they should consider traveling to Haiti as a vacation destination.
Sen. Forry's full statement reads:
"The prospect of large-volume deportations is troubling given the historic mistreatment of fellow Dominicans of Haitian ancestry. In addition to disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working people in the Dominican Republic, it could create hardship for many more in Haiti, which is not well-equipped to handle the influx of a large volume of people along its border. The potential for a humanitarian crisis is real and a responsible, compassionate government would pause and choose another course.
"That is precisely what I call on the leaders of the Dominican Republic to do. The Dominican Republic should reverse course in its policy and make a clear statement that it will not single out Dominicans of Haitian descent for this sort of treatment.
"It is time for us to send a collective and clear message that we expect the Dominican Republic to treat its citizens with respect. The people of the Haitian diaspora here in the United States — and our allies— can and should take immediate action:
1. Call on your elected leaders in our federal government. Ask them to speak publicly and demand a halt to the Dominican Republic's policy regarding the deportation of Dominicans of Haitian descent.
2. Be respectful in our words. The people of the Dominican Republic are our neighbors, friends and family. The inhumane policy that their current government is pursuing does NOT reflect the views of all Dominicans, so many of whom have roots in Haiti as well. We must maintain a civil and amicable posture. This disagreement can and should be resolved without enmity.
3. Haitian-Americans — and our allies— should re-consider any existing plans to vacation in the Dominican Republic until its government reverses course and stops plans to repatriate Dominicans who happen to be of Haitian descent. Haiti has developed wonderful tourist amenities and is ready and eager to receive us with open arms. The American travel market is a key economic lever that can be used to influence Dominican decision-makers.
4. Spread the word. Use social media, talk to your friends who may not understand the issue. Explain to them why this action is necessary and encourage them to stand with us in solidarity.
"These may seem like small acts, but collectively, I believe they will be persuasive. Thank you for your time and commitment to human rights.”