Leaders of Caribbean Community member-states have expressed "grave concern" at the ongoing difficulties faced by Haitian migrants and their children in the Dominican Republic.

In a statement issued Tuesday following last week's CARICOM summit in the Bahamas, the leaders cited "a number of recent developments grievously affecting Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic."

"The process of regularizing Dominicans of Haitian descent arbitrarily deprived of their nationality by the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruling on nationality of September 2013 expired on 1 Feb. 2015," CARICOM noted.

Dominican officials declined to extend the deadline even though only 6,937 of Haitians eligible for regularization "were able to apply in time, leaving a large number, estimated to be over 100,000, vulnerable to expulsion," the statement said.

The regularization plan, designed mainly for the Dominican-born children of Haitian migrants, emerged after the controversial Constitutional Court ruling of September 2013, which prompted widespread condemnation.

"The Community reiterates its condemnation of the Dominican Republic government's repudiation of international law," the CARICOM statement said.

CARICOM, which had earlier suspended discussions about admitting the Dominican Republic as a member, also condemned "the resurgence of anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic."
"In view of these troubling developments, the Caribbean Community maintains its posture of 'no business as usual' with the Dominican Republic," CARICOM said.

An estimated 1 million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, most of them illegal immigrants working in agriculture and construction.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.

Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugarcane.

Haitians have been the target of mob violence and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants. EFE