Protesters demand Dominican Republic end expulsions

New Yorkers rallied Friday at Grand Army Plaza and planned to march to City Hall in protest of the Dominican Republic's immigration changes.

Holding banners and signs, they chanted, "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."

"Families are being separated," said Jennings Louis, of the Haitian American Caucus. "A lot of people of Haitian descent were born in the Dominican Republic. Some of them are in their teens, late 20s, early 30s, and they're ... being sent back to a country they don't know."

Authorities in the Dominican Republic have resumed patrols to detain and deport migrants who lack documents. The move comes weeks after the government ended a one-year period for migrants to apply for legal residency.

Thousands of Haitians and people of Haitian descent have fled the Dominican Republic in recent weeks, and some of them have ended up in encampments along Haiti's side of the border on the island of Hispaniola.

In September 2013, the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court ruled that children born in the country to non-citizens didn't qualify for automatic citizenship, and the Dominican Republic has said that the 2010 earthquake in Haiti has exacerbated problems.

At the protest in Brooklyn, Dominican-Americans said they don't agree with the Dominican Republic's actions. "Some people are looking at us like we support this, but no," said Hancy Martinez, of the Bronx. "The Dominican-Americans, we don't support it."

Other protesters called for a financial boycott. "We want people to not give their tourism dollars, to not lend economic support to a regime that targets people because of their ethnicity," said Sophia Cantave, of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees.

The protesters hope that the United Nations and U.S. government will step in.

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