August 20, 2019

Letter to the editor: Ruth Messinger responds to Joe Benjamin

To the Editor:
In recent columns, Jose Singer and Joe Benjamin did not refute any of the facts that I shared in my op-ed American Jews must speak out for Haitians in Dominican Republic. As the United States Department of StateHuman Rights Watch and some of the most reliable news organizations in the U.S. have reported, the Dominican government is shamefully denying human rights to people of Haitian descent based on their race and origins. The U.S. State Department has even urged that the Dominican government allow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to be involved in their deportation processes; a recommendation the Dominican government has not yet followed.  
Mr. Singer and Mr. Benjamin offered only misleading rhetoric suggesting that the crisis in the Dominican Republic is purely an issue of undocumented immigrants, when it involves stripping citizens of their rights and homes. Much like the Dominican government¹s public relations campaign, Singer and Benjamin are working hard to obscure the truth. The sad truth that neither Mr. Singer nor Mr. Benjamin want to acknowledge is that hundreds of Dominicans have been exiled from the only homeland they have ever known and thousands more face the same risk.
We appreciate both Mr. Singer¹s and Mr. Benjamin¹s invitations to visit and donate to the people of the Dominican Republic, but we need no such invitation. In fact, my staff and I have visited the Dominican Republic many times, and we know the country well. I have spoken with Dominicans of Haitian descent who have lived in the Dominican Republic for decades, and I have heard reports directly from the Dominican Republic about the tragic consequences of the Medina government¹s actions. 
Further, the organization I lead, American Jewish World Service, has donated $1.9 million to the Dominican Republic to advance the political, civil and human rights of all people living there. My colleagues and I speak from a place of knowledge, experience and compassion, and we continue to seek justice for all in the Dominican Republic. 
Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service