Few people in this hemisphere suffer more than Haitians. Haiti is in the western part of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic is in the eastern part of Hispaniola.
Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492. The French and Spanish fought over the land. Slavery was introduced to harvest the crops of sugar cane.
A slave revolt ended foreign domination in the early 1800’s. The U.S. occupied the country in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Most leaders since then have been dictators.
Haiti has always been a poor country. Over the years, many of its natives fled to Caribbean countries, the U.S. and Canada. A terrible earthquake almost destroyed the country in January 2010. Thousands of Haitians lost their homes and left the country.
A number of countries now are deporting people of Haitian background. The Bahamas says that being born in the Bahamas does not automatically make you a citizen. The government says you must have a passport. The paperwork to get the document is very complicated. Many people with Haitian backgrounds have been sent to Haiti even if they have never been there and know little about the country.
In 2013, the government of the Dominican Republic said the children of illegal immigrants (mostly Haitians) might be sent back to Haiti. Turks and Caicos, Brazil and Canada have also taken steps against Haitian migrants.
Like many undocumented people in the U.S., Haitians migrants live in a legal limbo.
Immigration has become a global issue.
Source: The New York Times January 30, 2015
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