Torn at the Seam:

Migration, Deportations, and Humanitarian Concerns on the Island of Hispaniola

This year’s clinic focuses on the fallout of the Dominican Republic’s Law 169-14 and the Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE) on the Haitian side of the border, including the reasons why any Haitians or Dominicans of Haitian descent fled, were deported or expulsed from the Dominican Republic (DR), as well as the conditions along the border and available support from the Haitian government, civil society, and international actors. Through fieldwork and desk research, the team is analyzing the issue, the relevant international and domestic legal regimes, responses, policies, and programs from the government, international government organizations, private sector and civil society. The resulting report aims to feature this research and make corresponding policy recommendations to the various actors involved. The student team is responsible for all stages of the project: refining the project proposal, identifying key stakeholders (government officials, IGOs, civil society, individuals, etc.), drafting research questions, arranging interviews and briefings, conducting background research on the issues in preparation for the fact-finding trip; participating in the fact-finding trip; outlining, drafting, editing and finalizing the report; and presenting the report to the SAIS Community, general public and media.


In September 2013, the Constitutional Court of the DR issued Sentence 168-13, which altered the requisites of citizenship such that approximately 250,000 citizens of foreign descent were rendered stateless. Due to the volume and history of migration from Haiti to the DR, Dominicans of Haitian descent were particularly affected. Additionally, the sentence called for the PNRE in order to regularize undocumented migrants, a plan of particular significance for the sizable Haitian population. In the following year, after international criticism, the DR government adopted Law 169-14, a naturalization law that aimed to alleviate the harms of the previous ruling. However, the inherent flaws in the structure and implementation of these laws, as well as the socio-political climate, have led to increasing penalization, denationalization and expulsion, deportation and fleeing of individuals to Haiti. Matters are further complicated by inadequate support for these individuals on the Haitian side of the border. As the migration crisis intensifies, there is a crucial need to study it, find methods to alleviate it and better inform the parties who have the power to make active interventions. Moreover, upcoming presidential elections in both the DR and Haiti offer opportunities for change in official policy and dialogue around this issue.

 Research Objectives

The primary objectives of this research pertain to exploring and understanding the outcomes and implications of the DR’s Law 169-14 and the PNRE on the Haitian side of the border. This involves investigating the relevant international and domestic legal regimes, responses, policies, and programs from the Haitian government, international governmental organizations, and respective members of the private sector and civil society. The clinic aims to collect information, accurately report on the researchers’ findings and yield policy recommendations with regard to the current crisis in the Haiti-DR border.