Dominican authorities arrest 137 Haitian migrants

Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Jul 2 (EFE).- The Cesfront border security force arrested a total of 137 undocumented Haitians, the Dominican army said.

On Tuesday, 16 illegal Haitian migrants were arrested after being found hiding in a house in the northwestern province of Dajabon.

The owner of the residence, Dominican citizen Andres Jimenez, was also taken into custody, the army said.

On Monday, Cesfront personnel detained another 121 undocumented Haitians who were surprised while hiding in the hills with the aim of traveling on foot to Santiago and other cities in the north.

The immigrants, among whom were four children, were handed over to immigration authorities, who in turn delivered them to a committee from the Haitian consulate in Dajabon city.

Officials with the Haitian consulate asked that the children, most of whom were accompanied by their parents and/or by close relatives, be taken to children's shelters in the Dominican Republic, claiming that there were no places to house them in Haiti itself.

Dominican officials estimate that around 1 million Haitians live in the country, most of them illegal immigrants who work 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 sugar cane.

Haitians have been the target of mob violence numerous times in recent years and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants.

Thousands of Haitians fled to the Dominican Republic after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people on Jan. 12, 2010, and displaced more than 1 million others.