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Haitian Immigrants

You might be aware of the dire situation in Haitibut right across the border in the Dominican Republic, things are getting really bad for Haitians and people of Haitian descent who have been seeking a new life in the country.

Haitians are fleeing Haiti as instability in the country escalates with increased gang violence, kidnappings, and murders. Many are crossing into the Dominican Republic—the two countries share a border on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. 

But while Haitians have lived in the Dominican Republic for years, tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants and people of Haitian descent are now being deported.

Resonate Global Mission missionaries and ministry partners are helping people secure legal citizenship. They need your help.

An increase in deportations

Haitians have been immigrating to the Dominican Republic for decades. But recently, the number of immigrants being deported has risen. One news outlet reports that 114,125 Haitians have been deported from the Dominican Republic from January through June of this year. It is not only immigrants who are being forced to leave, but people with Haitian ancestry who have been born in the Dominican Republic.

“It is the worst that most people have ever seen,” said one of your Resonate missionaries, who works in the Dominican Republic.

People are being separated from their spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other family members and friends.

“There are reports of agents going into hospitals and deporting pregnant women, going to homes at night and pulling people out, and even going into churches during services to pull people out. A Haitian pastor recently told me that this happened to him several times and now they lock the doors and close the windows during services,” said your missionary.

The majority of Resonate’s work that you support in the Dominican Republic has been, and continues to be, alongside immigrants from Haiti and people of Haitian descent.

Deportation has become a business. Many of the deportation cases Resonate ministry partners have learned about have included people who were detained but set free after paying off the officials. 

For those who are deported to Haiti, they face a number of challenges in a country that is plagued with gang violence, kidnappings, and murders. The country has struggled to rebuild after natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. The country lacks infrastructure, which makes it difficult to secure housing, clean water, food, gas, and other necessities.

For those who are of Haitian descent and have only ever lived in the Dominican Republic, they have no home, job, or other resources. They might also not speak fluent French or Haitian Creole, two of the official languages in Haiti. The Dominican Republic speaks Dominican Spanish.

The deportation of Haitian immigrants and people of Haitian ancestry has added new needs that your Resonate missionaries and ministry partners are working to meet.

Resonate's work in the Dominican Republic has been mostly alongside Haitians

The majority of Resonate’s work that you support in the Dominican Republic has been, and continues to be, alongside immigrants from Haiti and people of Haitian descent.

Haitians experience economic exploitation and marginalization, as well as racial and cultural discrimination in the Dominican Republic. Most live in vulnerable and marginalized communities, including bateyes.

“Bateyes are plantation villages, owned and operated by the sugarcane company where the company is the dominant—and even only—law and economy. Many have no electricity or running water, no schools, no clinics, no businesses except a company store, and no economic opportunity. In some cases, the people aren’t allowed to even have a garden plot,” said your missionary.

A CRC church from the United states and a church in the Dominican Republic stand in front of the new church building they constructed
A Resonate group volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic to partner with the local community to construct a church building

The church is often the only other institution in these villages. While the government usually does not provide services, the church and ministries like Resonate are uniquely positioned to serve these communities.

Through your support of Resonate, you partner with the Christian Reformed Church in the Dominican Republic (CRCDR) and Juventud Empoderada para la Transformación (JET) to care for these communities. Because of you, JET and the CRCDR have been able to help meet needs in bateyes such as equipping Christian leaders to make a difference, providing Christian education for children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend school, and by partnering with local churches to construct buildings that serve as community centers.

Why are there so many Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic?

“One may legitimately say that [many of] these people are in the country illegally. Yes, that is true. But there is a long and complex story of how we got to this situation,” said your missionary.

He explains that Haitians were once encouraged to migrate to the Dominican Republic for work.

Throughout the 20th century, the country’s economy, infrastructure, foreign trade, and general development was built primarily on sugarcane. But native Dominicans refused to do the work because it was considered slave labor. So, they relied on an influx of Haitian immigrants to cut sugarcane.

Over time, most of the sugarcane refineries became state-run and the government became more lax on immigration policies—as well as revoking agreements and plans for people to immigrate to the country legally.

Haitians in the Dominican Republic have long experienced prejudice. In 2010, the country ratified a new constitution that did away with jus soli, which gave Haitians and other immigrants the right to acquire nationality or citizenship by being born within the Dominican Republic. In its place, they instituted jus sanguinis, by which citizenship became determined or acquired by the nationality or ethnicity of one or both parents.

“Everyone knew that this was targeted at Haitians,” said your missionary.

You can help

By giving to Resonate, you can help Haitian immigrants and people with Haitian ancestry to secure legal residency and, if possible, citizenship in the Dominican Republic.

First, you can help immigrants without documentation to secure a one-year visitor visa, a temporary visitor status, or residency. 

“This is costly,” shared your Resonate missionary.

Second, you can help children who are born to immigrants to register themselves through helping to educate them or, in a few cases, securing them with legal assistance.

This past year, 35 people were able to resolve at least part of their legal status with help from you and your Resonate ministry partners, CRC-DR, and JET. This is a slow and often costly process, but your support of these efforts can help make the difference in the lives of individuals and entire families.

To give to this important project, visit