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October 22, 2013


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"The highest court of the Dominican Republic recently decided to ignore hundreds of years of Western constructions of citizenship law, which provides that citizenship is granted to offspring of citizens or to those born in a country. Specifically, the court ruled to deny the Dominican nationality to children of undocumented immigrants, despite the fact that these children were born in the Dominican Republic."

I've only read journalistic accounts of this story, and as is typical, they are not very clear on the details. I also agree that it's an obviously bad decision based on bad reasons. It is worth pointing out, though, that many, many (perhaps most) countries don't grant citizenship merely for being born in the territory. The US's rule is unusually strong even for countries that have jus soli rules at all, and quite a few don't have any such rule. Several other countries have been moving to more restrictive forms of jus soli, forms that would at least arguably have a similar result to that found here. So, the law is bad, is pretty clearly motivated by bad motives, but isn't unprecedented or even shockingly rare. Even the more radical move of stripping citizenship rights from those formerly held to have them, while vile and outrageous, isn't unprecedented among "western" countries- there is some real similarity to what the UK did to "over seas" citizens in the 60's and 70's as it moved to restrict citizenship for residents of its former colonies (just when they were starting to move to the UK in noticeable numbers.)

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All states have a real interest in regulating immigration and naturalization. Decisions on what is appropriate are always specific to a given state's situation. What the DR is doing is extreme, but certainly within the realm of what is done by many states. It is not wrong to punish those who illegally immigrate. All states have laws doing so in some form or fashion. Punishing the children of illegal immigrants and stripping citizenship sounds terrible to me, but it may not to the citizens of the DR.

I'm not clear on what you advocate the US do. Sanctions, travel bans, cutting off aid? Do you advocate the use of economic and political force against the DR to force it to give citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants? All sound like extreme attempts to impose what we think is right on another state when all the while that state's immigration laws aren't that different from apparently acceptable laws of others. I submit that trying to do such things would be a political disaster for the US. Given our track record we would get no backing from other countries. We would be looked at yet again as a bully trying to impose.

However, if you want to continue a publicity campaign and organize a voluntary campaign urging US citizens not to travel to or do business in the Dominican Republic until it changes its laws, then I am on board.

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I usually do not drop a comment, however after browsing through a greaat deal of responses here The Faculty Lounge: Haitia descendants in Dominican Republic face human tragedy. I actually do have a couple of questions for you if yoou don't mind. Is it simply me or do a few of these responses appear as if they are coming from brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at other online social sites, I'd like to keep up with everything fresh you have to post. Couild you make a list of all of all your social pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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