In 2013, the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal retroactively removed citizenship from tens of thousands of Dominicans. Most of them are of Haitian descent – a historically marginalized community. This has left them unable to carry out basic civil tasks such as register children at birth, enroll in school and university, participate in the formal economy, or move around the country without risk of detention and expulsion.
In 2014, President Danilo Medina’s administration attempted to mitigate the high court ruling with a Naturalization Law aimed at recognizing the citizenship claims of those affected by the 2013 decision. Despite a promising legal framework, the law has been fraught with design and implementation flaws that have thwarted the naturalization process. Tens of thousands of Dominicans were unable to benefit from the law, and are now vulnerable to expulsion.