Translate page with Google

Story Publication logo June 27, 2023

For a Few, Repatriation From DR Proves Bittersweet

soldiers outside a gate

In recent years, a new group of Haitians have arrived in the DR from Haiti’s middle- to upper-income...

author #1 image author #2 image
Multiple Authors

A truck carrying undocumented immigrants at Elias Piña, Dominican Republic in January 2023. Image by Marvens Compère/The Haitian Times. Dominican Republic, 2023.

Some undocumented Haitians in the Dominican Republic are happy to visit Haiti after getting repatriated.

SANTO DOMINGO  — Getting repatriated often comes with shame, sadness and even despair but for Félix Etienne, while he was on a repatriation bus ride from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, his heart was filled with joy because he was going home.

“I was not discouraged,” said Etienne, a construction worker in Santo Domingo. “I was happy because I hadn’t seen my mom, my little sister, my little brother in a long time.”

Days after being repatriated, Etienne paid a coyote to go back to the Dominican Republic, mainly to be with his wife and baby son again. Etienne was repatriated twice and paid a return trip to DR on both occasions.

As a nonprofit journalism organization, we depend on your support to fund more than 170 reporting projects every year on critical global and local issues. Donate any amount today to become a Pulitzer Center Champion and receive exclusive benefits!

Félix Etienne’s wife and son posing for a picture in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in January 2023. Image by Marvens Compère/The Haitian Times. Dominican Republic, 2023.

For most, repatriation is to be avoided at all costs. However, a few Haitians find them. After getting repatriated, many easily return to the Dominican Republic by paying a coyote. Or if they’re lucky enough, they can pay the immigration officers directly to let them go. 

Schnider Brutus, a taxi-moto driver, had done so in Santo Domingo last year, paying an immigration police officer 2,000 pesos, or $US35, or about 5,500 gourdes. Meanwhile, many Haitians try to run away from immigration police officers and some end up losing their lives.

Raquel Ogando, a documented fast food worker, saw a man get hit by a car while he was running away from immigration police officers near her workplace at Friusa Food Park in Punta Cana in November 2021. The man died instantly.

“They were going to send you home. Why would you lose your life over this?” Ogando, 24, said. “It was better to just go home and just be done with it. Why were you running? Where were you going?”

Although Brutus was lucky enough not to get repatriated last year, he was sent back when he was 17. Brutus was at Elias Piña, a border province, with his mother selling goods when immigration police officers caught them.

“I’m not the one who chose to go [to Haiti],” said Brutus as he sat in his living room in January. “There was a deportation and they just chose me.”

Schnider Brutus on his motorcycle in Santo Domingo in January 2023. Image by Onz Chery/The Haitian Times. Dominican Republic, 2023.

Brutus was born in the Dominican Republic and had never been to Haiti before. Before that, Brutus always used to tell his mother that he wanted to go to Haiti. But Brutus did not like the fact that he went to Haiti through deportation. 

While in Haiti, Brutus passed through Mirebalais, Lascahobas, Belladère and Croix-des-Bouquets before getting dropped off at Malpasse, a border town in the Southeastern Department. He crossed back to the Dominican Republic through Jimaní, a city near Malpasse.

“I was happy,” Brutus said. “I was proud that I stepped foot on my soil, where I’m from.”





teal halftone illustration of a family carrying luggage and walking


Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees

Support our work

Your support ensures great journalism and education on underreported and systemic global issues