The migration flow between Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR) in the island of Hispaniola is highly active and challenging as it is estimated that over half a million foreign born persons are living as irregular migrants in the DR, the vast majority of which - (458,233 persons) - being from the neighboring Republic of Haiti. Consequently, migration management between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the protection of vulnerable migrants remains a major challenge on the island.
In addition to this protracted challenge, the Government of Dominican Republic passed the Dominican Republic’s Presidential Decree 327-13 concerning the National Plan to Regularize Foreigners in Conditions of Irregular Migration in 2013 which required all foreigners, immigrants and descendants of immigrants born between 1929 and 2007 to register in the National Plan of Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE in Spanish). Registering in the PNRE granted irregular migrants the opportunity to confirm their residency status and obtain temporary residence or potentially confirm their eligibility for naturalization. However, the deadline for undocumented migrants to register for the PNRE expired on 17 June 2015 and subsequently authorized the Dominican law enforcement authority to forcibly expel Individuals of Haitian descent, that are unable to produce the newly imposed identification and documentation reflecting their status in the country.
Due to the significant influx of returnees and in support of the Government of Haiti, IOM Haiti established a Displacement Tracking Matrix which focused on reinforcing monitoring and data collection of border movement between the two countries. In collaboration with the Civil Society Organizations operating along the border and Humanitarian partners, IOM collected detailed information on returnees at the four (4) Official Border Crossing Points (BCPs) between the countries as well as 96 unofficial BCPs all along the border. Through this collaboration, IOM collected reliable statistical data and independent information on undocumented Haitians and persons of Haitian descent forcibly and/or voluntarily returning to Haiti from the Dominican Republic.
IOM has partnered with Civil Society Organizations active along the border such as Services Jésuites aux Migrants (SJM), Réseau Frontalier Jeannot Succès (RFJS) and the Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés (GARR). Furthermore, IOM supported a network of 244 enumerators who were trained on the border monitoring questionnaire, (elaborated by IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF) and proper referral mechanisms for highly vulnerable migrants (such as potential stateless persons, presumed unaccompanied minors, returnees registered in the PNRE etc.). IOM Haiti firstly conducted partial monitoring of the Haitian-Dominican Republic border beginning from the first week of June until 19 July 2015, while the full scale monitoring began on 20 July 2015 once IOM’s Border Monitoring Database System became fully operational on 100 border crossing points and Civil Society Organization and enumerators were subsequently trained on the border monitoring methodology.
Classification of return movements
- Return movements along the Haitian-Dominican border fall into two main categories of movements as defined by the IOM Glossary on Migration:
- Spontaneous Returns (Migration): An individual or groups who initiate and proceed with their migration plans without any outside assistance. Spontaneous migration is usually caused by push-pull factors and is characterized by the lack of State assistance or any other type of international or national assistance.
- Deportation: The act of a State in the exercise of its sovereignty in removing an alien from its territory to a certain place after refusal of admission or termination of permission to remain.
- Deportations from the DR to Haiti have been further sub-categorized into two types:
- Official Deportations: Government organized returns which are carried out in the official Border Crossing Points (Ouanaminthe – Dajabon, Belladeres- Elias Pina, Malpasse-Jimani, Anse à Pitrse-Pedernales) during opening hours at the border. Before authorities perform official deportations, relevant returnees must receive an official notification regarding the impending deportation. Additionally, information regarding the time and border crossing point are to be communicated to the Haitian authorities (Haitian Embassy/consulate). Official deportations are mostly carried out by the DR Immigration.
- Other Deportations: Any other deportation which does not follow the above-mentioned guidelines (also referred to as claimed deportation).
Border Crossing Points identification and mapping
Through the trainings, discussions and workshops with the border monitoring network and governmental officials, additional border crossing points (BCPs) were identified along the Haitian-Dominican border which led to the IOM team conducting a mapping exercise. Through this exercise the IOM team identified a total of 100 border crossing points, including 4 official and 96 unofficial border crossing points.
BCPs are categorized into Official Border Crossing Points and Non-Official Border Crossing Points:
a) Official Border Crossing Points (Checkpoint): A location (on the land border or at an airport or seaport) where persons are stopped by border officials for inspection and clearance, in order to enter the State .
b) Unofficial Border Crossing Points: Unofficial border crossing points are points of entry along the border not known or recognized as official entry points between the two countries. Unofficial border crossing points lack border officials and monitoring.
At present, the full border monitoring network has been operational and present at the 50 border crossing points along the Haitian-Dominican Republic border.