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Merrimack Valley

January 19, 2014

Cardinal O'Malley urges Dominicans to change citizenship policy

Decree seen as unfair to Haitians born in Dominican Republic


“It is my hope that at this Christmas season the government and people of the Dominican Republic will reject these unjust rulings that cause so much pain and suffering. I hope and pray that the government and people of the Dominican Republic will be inspired by the ideals of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that appears on your beautiful national flag. The example of leaders like Martin Luther King and President Mandela points to the kind of resolve and humanity that is required to rid our world of the spiritual disease of racism,” O’Malley wrote.

Members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, including Niki Tsongas, were among 19 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who wrote to Dominican President Danilo Medina to “express our deep concern” about the tribunal’s decree.

“While we recognize the ability of any government to regulate access to nationality, any such domestic regulation must still conform to universally accepted obligations of non discrimination, due process and a government’s duty to prevent statelessness,” the letter said.

Local Dominicans and Haitians are appalled about the decree, but happy the two governments are looking for ways to come to work around it.

“I’m glad about the dialogue because there may be a positive solution from it to the relation between Dominicans and Haitians,” said the Rev. Victor Jarvis, a member of the Lawrence Human Rights Commission. “But the racism is not going to be resolved with just talks. Both governments have to come to an agreement.”

Jarvis, pastor of Ebenezer Christian Church, and others said the decree could severely affect the business relations between the two countries.

“The decree has brought to the limelight how Haitians are treated and somehow the country will have to do something to make it right,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis and Rev. Jean Joseph said the national and international community should pressure on the Dominican Republic to help solve the problem.

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