Hundreds of Thousands On Precipice of Losing Everything, Yet No One Seems to Care?

06/06/2015 11:19 am ET | Updated Jun 06, 2016

Imagine for a moment that Mitt Romney won the 2012 presidential election, and his oft-repeated "self-deportation" plan to address our so-called immigrant problem was put in place. That policy, if you recall, was the xenophobic response to an alleged crisis. Under it, U.S. officials were to pass laws so hostile to undocumented immigrants that these immigrants would be left with no choice but to leave the U.S. The policy in turn would create such a dangerous environment for millions that it could foster violence against our largely voiceless undocumented immigrant community. Indeed, as World War II has taught us, global history is filled with governmental acts that eventually led to the persecution of the politically powerless people.

Imagine also, if you will, that in light of the recent troubles in Ferguson, Missouri, and other locales where people of color where persecuted and such persecution led to civil unrest, our federal government went even further in this alternative universe, and decided to pass a law that every person of color in the U.S., including African-Americans, were subject to deportation if they could not prove their ancestors arrived in this land with legal status.

Most of us would likely find the possibility of such laws to be certainly unconstitutional, and unquestionably intolerable. There would be protests both in the streets, and in virtually every hall of power. A revolution of sorts would likely force change to happen.

Perhaps to the surprise of many, the above scenario is exactly what is occurring at this moment with one of our closest, if not nearest, allies. Indeed, in the Dominican Republic, its government has passed laws almost identical to the ones mentioned above. In fact, the Dominican government has publicly stated that mass deportations of its citizens of Haitian descent will commence on or about June 17, 2015. That government has massed a fleet of buses to deport these Dominicans to a land largely foreign to these people. The Dominican military, for its part, is ramping up efforts at collective deportations, according to reports, sweeping up anyone who "looks" Haitian, and dumping them in Haiti. Despite these horrors, no world leader and few media outlets are focusing on this very real human rights tragedy.

Perhaps following the anti-immigrant fervor during the U.S. during the 2012 presidential election and currently arising in Europe, the Dominican Republic has actually tortured its own constitution, and a host of human rights laws to persecute the poorest of its citizens. You see, in the Dominican case, the country has used anti-immigrant rhetoric against its own racial minority citizens. But they are not immigrants!

In 2013, the Dominican high court decided that a person born in that country was not automatically a citizen of that country. The only problem with that determination is that it was not consistent with the very language of the country's governing constitution. The Dominican constitution in question specifically recognized Jus Solis citizenship, also known as birthright citizenship. In fact, in addition to the language of the constitution itself, more than one international court decision specifically interpreted the constitution in that fashion. To add to the absurdity, the Dominican Court did not stop there, it held that its decision of stripping of citizenship to its citizens of Haitian descent, albeit couched in "immigrant" rhetoric, applied retroactively for nearly 100 years. In other words, despite the language of its own constitution, human rights norms, and decades of reasonable practice, in one stroke of a pen, the Dominican government actually held that generations of Dominican citizens were stateless under a logic that makes even our own tragic racially motivated decisions of Dred Scott (the 1800s decision holding African-Americans incapable of becoming citizens) and Korematsu (the WWII decision upholding the internment U.S. citizens of Japanese descent) seem logical.

Despite these facts, neither media outlets nor other world leaders are sufficiently addressing the matter. Those of us of good conscience must therefore not rest -- we must shed light to darkness and expose this travesty at our doorstep. If not, hundreds of thousands will invariably be driven from their homes, will unquestionably be left with no rights, i.e., become stateless, and dare I say, many others will face even a worse fate, mass incarceration or killings.

Action must be taken to force an end this nightmare!