Women stop to look at rubble on an earthquake damaged street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 25, 2010. File Photo by UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, July 2 (UPI) -- The Dominican Republic has agreed to cooperate with an investigation by the Organization of American States into its immigration policies over its planned deportation of Haitians.
More than 25,000 Haitians have already left the Dominican Republic to return Haiti, many of whom were born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants. There were an estimated 500,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic before the recent immigration scandal.
"We have nothing to hide because what we are doing is applying our laws on migration as every country in the world does and to do this we have done what was needed," Dominican Republic Interior Minister Ramon Fadul said after the announcement by the Organization of American States.
A Dominican government immigration program ended June 17 and Haitians who applied to the program will receive permanent residency, a temporary work visa or rejection.
Since then, many Haitians have crossed the border in fear of deportation. The Dominican government may start deporting undocumented immigrants from Haiti starting late July, leading many Haitians to leave voluntarily, but the Dominican government is also accused of using force.
"People are being detained and shoved across the border," director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division Jose Miguel Vivanco said.
More than 180,000 people were still unregistered by the program's deadline.
In 2013, a high court in the Dominican Republic ruled people born in the country between 1929 and 2010 were Dominican citizens, but those born to undocumented migrants are not citizens.
The ruling has caused thousands to become stateless, according to Vivanco.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and killed up to 316,000 people also displaced 1.5 million people initially. Thousands left Haiti to settle in the Dominican Republic, regardless of legal status.
The earthquake is not the only reason some Haitians choose to leave, as many flee from violence and are economic immigrants. The Haitian government is also accused of corruption and instability, which decreases the confidence of its constituents who may seek elsewhere to live.