Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.50.03 AMOn the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, there is an ongoing and overlooked human rights and humanitarian catastrophe. In recent years, the government of the Dominican Republic has taken measures to essentially strip ethnic Haitians of Dominican citizenship.

New legal statutes have the potential to render about 500,000 people stateless. (For context and comparison’s sake that is roughly the equivalent of the number of asylum applicants in Germany stemming from the Syrian refugee crisis).

The roots of discrimination against Haitians in the Dominican Republic run deep, but these citizenship laws are relatively new. On the line with me to discuss this largely overlooked humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere is human rights researcher Ryan Bacci. He explains the contours of these laws, their human rights and humanitarian implications on the ground, and offers some important historical context to understand how this kind of discrimination could be enshrined into a country’s constitution.

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