miércoles, 12 de diciembre de 2012

Immigration Control Strikes Padre Granero Again!

This past Sunday morning (December 9, 2012), Puerto Plata's Immigration Control police went into Padre Granero and rounded up Haitians without the proper documentation (passport with visa or residency), put everyone they rounded up in a truck, and took them straight to Haiti. They did the same thing in Padre Granero a little less than a year ago.

Padre Granero, the community where our school is located, has a huge Haitian immigrant population, most of whom are from the Northern Cap Haitian region of Haiti. They took our wonderful teacher Met Oreste the day before he was about to give his exams to finish of the first trimester. They took the Cheridor family who have been in the school since it opened in 2006. And they took many others as well.

The Cheridor family -
excuse the poor quality
of the photo.
Ironically, it was the Cheridor family along with their cousins the Philistin family who pleaded for help with the proper documentation at the house visits we did with teachers and volunteers this past summer. They spoke of their fear of being picked up by Immigration at any time, although at that point their family had been in the country for more than a decade without it happening, but they were fearful that it would. Their children who were born in the Dominican Republic don't even have birth certificates.

This is most definitely a human rights issue that I wish would be properly addressed by organizations that work to achieve human rights where they are lacking. Project Esperanza would be more than willing to partner on such an cffort. The Dominican law states that children born in the Dominican Republic receive Dominican citizenship. However, they put in a loophole specifically designed for Haitians, to keep from giving them citizenship and therefore justify the continued discrimination and abuse. If the parents don't have documentation, (and I am not sure exactly what documentation is and isn't accepted, as far as one parent with a passport, one parent with a passport with a visa, one parent with a Dominican birth certificate, etc.) and I think it varies depending on the hospital or civil office and the decision-maker present at the time, then they do no give the baby a Dominican birth certificate. These babies then spend their lives in the Dominican Republic and are really stateless people. They could be picked up by Immigration and taken to Haiti, a country they have never known, at any time.

And the way that Immigration picks people up is incredibly inhumane. One woman who works with Project Esperanza as a caregiver gave her account of being picked up and sent to Haiti by Immigration while talking about her children and the ages at which they were weaned.

"I weaned Eriverto at a year and Aniverca at 8 months."

"Why did you wean Aniverca at 8 months?"

"Because Immigration took me to Haiti so I had to be separated from her."

"Did you tell them that you had a nursing baby that you would be leaving behind?"

"Yes, they saw her crying on the porch as they took me away."

I think most people who read this would agree that a change is needed. The Dominican Republic may or may not be your country, and the same with Haiti. But regardlessn, we are all God's children and we have responsibilities to do what we can when we know of such difficulties faced by our fellow humans throughout the world. Those who believe in the pursuit of happiness for all on a global scale, please join us in our attempt to make a difference. Here are three ways you can help right now, and we hope that there will be bigger efforts made legally and politically in the future involving larger organizations such as the UN, for example.

1. Oreste (our teacher that was taken on Sunday morning) has been calling asking for money to properly put a year long visa on his passport and come back to Puerto Plata where he can finish his job before the break and then have some sort of a break before the next trimester starts January 7th. This is not even a favor he is asking as he is still owed 3+ months pay backed up from the past two school years, as not enough funds were entering to pay the teachers on time every month. The 3+ months owed to him total $757 US but $300 US would cover his visa and transportation back. We are thankful that we have been able to pay teachers on time each month so far this school year. But as far as paying back the months that were never caught up with, we have no pennies in sight for that purpose at this time.

2. This past August we were inroduced to a lawyer in Santo Domingo (through a Peace Corps function) who helps children who were born in the country, but not granted a birth certificate, to obtain one. He did not give a fixed price per birth certificate he will help produce, but just asked us to contact him when we are ready. He has done this for other organizations in the past, and we hope to work with him in order to provide birth certificates for some of the students in our school. This is something that sponsors may want to inquire about extra for the children they support, as it would truly provide them with more security, should they be a child that falls under these conditions of being born in the Dominican Republic and having no birth certificate.

3. Building more and deeper relationships with families involved in our schools is the first step to change, we believe. It is through relationships that our lives are shared and in learning about each other's lives, we go on to share what we have with one another, whether it be tangible or non-tangible. Our student sponsorship program is set up to facilitate such relationships. We hope that these relationships will grow over the years and produce much fruit. If you would like to sponsor a student in the school, perhaps in the name of a loved one for Christmas, please check out this section of our website.

Thank you for reading and for considering all of this with us!