EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 19, 2014

Cardinal O'Malley urges Dominicans to change citizenship policy

Decree seen as unfair to Haitians born in Dominican Republic

(Continued)

Mass. has third largest Haitian population in U.S.

The Caribbean Community and Common Market, known by CARICOM has refused full membership to the Dominican Republic over the decree.

Most of the Haitians living in the Dominican Republic work in construction, sugar cane fields and as domestics. Dominicans have crossed the border into Haiti to work as engineers and technicians.

Massachusetts has the third largest Haitian population in the United States and is home to an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Haitians with Florida coming in first with 250,000 Haitians.

Many Haitians in the state work in the health care industry. Some estimate that up to 75 percent of all nursing home workers are Haitian. Other popular fields for Haitian immigrants are high-tech and education.

In politics, Massachusetts state Rep. Marie St. Fleur was a top aide to former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino) and state representative, Linda Dorcena Forry.

They have also made their mark in the sports world. Gosder Cherilus, who graduated from Sommerville High and Boston College, is an offensive lineman for the Colts who’ll be playing the Patriots on Saturday; Vladimir Ducasse is an offensive lineman for the New York Jets. Ducasse studied at University of Massachusetts and Samuel Dalembert, plays with the Dallas Mavericks.

Ligia Domenech, assistant professor of history in the Department of Global Studies at Northern Essex Community College said the Dominican Republic is not the only country in the world that does not provide automatic citizenship at birth.

She said among the developed nations the United States and Canada are the two countries which automatically grants citizenship to babies born in those countries even if one or both parents are illegal immigrants, tourists, or living here on a student visa.

“It is more common than not. It has to do with countries to populate themselves,” she said.

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