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In Photos: Anger Flares Over Tonight's Deportation Deadline in the Dominican Republic

Wednesday's 7pm deadline for Haitians to register and avoid deportation was moved to midnight, but that did little to dispel their frustration.
June 18, 2015, 12:20am
Imagen por Christopher Gregory/VICE News

In 90 degree heat and blistering sun, thousands of Dominican Haitians formed a line that snaked for several blocks through the streets of Santo Domingo Wednesday. They were all waiting — some for days — to enter the Ministry of the Interior and complete a "regularization" process in order to avoid deportation.

The deadline for doing so was initially set for 7pm, but that was extended to midnight. The change, however, did little to allay tension and frustration.


"It's time to send your asses back!" one man shouted as he drove by. It wasn't unusual; the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which together occupy the island of Hispaniola, share a long history of racial tension.

Related: Dominican Republic Gives Haitians Until Midnight to Register or Face Deportation

A 2013 ruling by the Dominican Republic's top court rendered hundreds of thousands of people in the country — the vast majority of whom were of Haitian descent — effectively stateless by revoking their citizenship. In response to an outcry from the international community, the United Nations, and human rights groups, the government provided a pathway to residency for those impacted. But that system has been riddled with bureaucratic delays and bottlenecks.

Tension between those in line and the police was palpable, in some cases leading to arrests. Meanwhile, Inside the Ministry of the Interior, those seeking residency completed a three-step process: After meeting with officials, those applying had their photos taken and biometrics recorded, then went around the corner to a separate office to have their paperwork processed.

The ministry, however, almost certainly won't be able to process all of the people still waiting in line by midnight. VICE News is in Santo Domingo and will continue to update the story.

(All photos by Christopher Gregory/VICE News)

People waiting in line display a sign that reads, "The Regularization Plan is a failure. The requirements asked are impossible to fulfill."


Police keep watch over the line.


People in line outside the ministry.


Arguments between police and Haitians like this one, which occurred near the ministry, were commonplace.


Jose Manuel Gustavo reads a Creole Bible. He said he'd been waiting been in line for three days.


A man leans out of a passing bus and screams, "Take them all back!" Verbal abuse has been a common occurrence.


A worker in the Interior Ministry takes biometrics of a Dominican of Haitian descent registering with the government.


A group of young men played music for those waiting in line.


A freeway overpass provides some relief from the sun.


People hold documents issued to them by the Haitian embassy that confirm their places of birth. Some of the paperwork was for migrants who'd crossed into the DR as far back as 1960.


Like Gustavo, Ginnelle Exime, 25, said he'd been waiting for three days.

Follow Eric Fernandez (@Wakeupitsfern) and Christopher Gregory (@cgregoryphotoon Twitter.

This story was produced with support from LG as part of the Photos from Beyond program. VICE News maintains all editorial independence in the production of this content.