Haiti, Dominican Republic agree to migration, trade talks

The presidents of the Dominican Republic and Haiti agreed Tuesday to reopen negotiations to resolve migration and commercial disputes that are plaguing relations between their two countries.

The leaders, who met on the Dominican side of the border in the town of Barahona, said that government ministers would work on “an accord to enhance commercial trade and normalise ground transport of goods,” according to a memorandum of understanding.

Dominican President Danilo Medina and his Haitian counterpart Michel Martelly said that their industry and trade ministers plus finance ministers would meet in Port-au-Prince in the next 15 days.

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“Both governments also agreed to continue ongoing communication and coordination for better harmonisation of repatriation,” said Dominican Foreign Minister Andres Navarro, who read out the presidents’ memorandum.

Haiti has been waging an international campaign against a Dominican immigration policy that saw more than 250,000 people — mostly those born of Haitian parents — become stateless.

The Dominican Republic had given undocumented migrants until June 17 to register with authorities or face deportation.

The deadline was based on a Dominican court ruling in 2013 that said children born in the country of undocumented foreigners do not have Dominican citizenship.

Under international pressure, Santo Domingo established a process by which some 50,000 of those immigrants would be allowed to stay, but the majority were unable to finish the process in time due to documents that were slow to arrive from Haiti and Dominican registration offices that were overwhelmed by crowds.

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