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Haiti's crisis rises to the forefront of elections in neighboring Dominican Republic

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Haiti's crisis rises to the forefront of elections in neighboring Dominican Republic
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Haiti's crisis rises to the forefront of elections in neighboring Dominican Republic

2024-05-17 11:25 Last Updated At:11:31

VERON, Dominican Republic (AP) — As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, the Dominican Republic will hold elections Sunday that have been defined by calls for more crackdowns on migrants and finishing a border wall dividing the countries.

Politics in the two Caribbean nations sharing the island of Hispaniola have long been intertwined. Haiti’s spiral into chaos in recent years has coincided with a harsh crackdown by its Dominican neighbor.

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A Haitian vendor sells peanuts and candy during rush hour in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

VERON, Dominican Republic (AP) — As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, the Dominican Republic will hold elections Sunday that have been defined by calls for more crackdowns on migrants and finishing a border wall dividing the countries.

A billboard of presidential incumbent candidate Luis Abinader in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A billboard of presidential incumbent candidate Luis Abinader in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Friends and family fuss over a quinceañera in preparation for her photo session at Colon square in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Friends and family fuss over a quinceañera in preparation for her photo session at Colon square in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

An art dealer and the paintings he sells are reflected in a storefront window in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

An art dealer and the paintings he sells are reflected in a storefront window in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Haitians who earn money as moto-taxi drivers and handymen, wait for customers at the Eight batey in the Bahoruco province, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. The Dominican Republic bateyes are settlements of mostly Haitian immigrants and descendents working in the nearby sugarcane plantations. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Haitians who earn money as moto-taxi drivers and handymen, wait for customers at the Eight batey in the Bahoruco province, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. The Dominican Republic bateyes are settlements of mostly Haitian immigrants and descendents working in the nearby sugarcane plantations. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials stand on the tailgate step of a paddy wagon as they transport undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials stand on the tailgate step of a paddy wagon as they transport undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024.As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024.As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

FILE - Haitians detained for deportation look out from a police vehicle on a border bridge between Dajabon, Dominican Republic, and Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Haitians detained for deportation look out from a police vehicle on a border bridge between Dajabon, Dominican Republic, and Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Haitians hold up their immigration status documents to prove they have work permits, in Haina, Dominican Republic, March 16, 2024. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Haitians hold up their immigration status documents to prove they have work permits, in Haina, Dominican Republic, March 16, 2024. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - People wait in vain on the Haitian side of the border, to be allowed to cross into Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - People wait in vain on the Haitian side of the border, to be allowed to cross into Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Dominican Republic's President Luis Abinader speaks during his swearing-in ceremony in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug. 16, 2020. Abinader, the frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race as he seeks reelection, has begun to build a Trump-like border wall along Haiti’s border and carried out mass deportations of 175,000 Haitians just last year. (Orlando Barria/Pool via AP File)

FILE - Dominican Republic's President Luis Abinader speaks during his swearing-in ceremony in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug. 16, 2020. Abinader, the frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race as he seeks reelection, has begun to build a Trump-like border wall along Haiti’s border and carried out mass deportations of 175,000 Haitians just last year. (Orlando Barria/Pool via AP File)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

President Luis Abinader, a clear frontrunner race as he seeks reelection in the presidential race, has begun to build a Trump-like border wall along Haiti’s border and carried out mass deportations of 175,000 Haitians just last year. Dominicans also will be choosing members of Congress.

“We will continue to deport everyone who is illegal from any country,” Abinader said in a debate in late April. “A society that doesn’t do that is chaos and anarchy.”

Abinader, who has also pledged to strengthen the nation’s economy, said he would finish construction of the border wall with Haiti. His closest competitors – former President Leonel Fernández and Santiago Mayor Abel Martínez – have echoed his calls to ramp up the actions against migration.

The crackdown has marked an intensification of longtime policies by the Dominican government that human rights groups have alleged are discriminatory and put vulnerable people at risk.

Fernández, of the People’s Force party, said Dominicans were “afraid to go out into the streets" despite Abinader's policies. He also said he would continue crackdowns while respecting human rights.

Dominican voters seem to be rewarding Abinader for the crackdown, with the incumbent favored to get more than the 50% support needed to win in the first round of voting. If no candidate reaches the 50% mark a runoff between the top vote-getters would be held.

Ana Pagán, a 34-year-old supervisor at a communications company in the country's capital of Santo Domingo, said she approved of the border wall being built and the measures taken by the government.

“No foreigner who wants to stay here in the Dominican Republic should do so illegally, and that's what (the government) has said," she said.

However, Pagán said the wall doesn't solve all of the country's issues, and she referred to what have been the other key electoral issues for Dominicans: crime and endemic corruption. Pagán said many of the country's security problems come from corrupt officials allowing smuggling and other crimes.

While Dominican voters want continued a government crackdown on migrants, many of the hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic live in fear.

Haiti, long stricken by tragedy, has been in a downward spiral since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. Gangs have warred for power, injecting terror and turmoil into the lives of many in the Caribbean nation.

In recent weeks – following the prime minister's resignation – a transition council tasked with choosing Haiti's new leaders has offered a small dose of hope of easing some of the country's many woes.

The ongoing violence has forced many to flee their homes and seek refuge in places like the Dominican Republic and the United States. The Dominican government's policies have stirred concerns among both newly arrived migrants and Haitians that have long called the Dominican Republic home.

Yani Rimpel, a 35-year-old Haitian businesswoman in the eastern city of Veron, has lived in the country for 20 years. She told the AP she’s never seen such uncertainty among Haitian communities, something she attributes to Abinader’s migratory policy.

Two weeks ago, she said immigration agents broke into her house at dawn with heavily armed soldiers in tow. She said they searched the house and stole cash she saved up to buy and sell merchandise, leaving her without any means to support herself.

“If (Abinader) stays in power, I can’t live here. I’m going to have to move back to my house in Haiti. Because here I have no value. I’m not safe. I don’t have a way to live here if he continues” as president, she said.

——

Megan Janetsky reported from Mexico City.

A Haitian vendor sells peanuts and candy during rush hour in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A Haitian vendor sells peanuts and candy during rush hour in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A billboard of presidential incumbent candidate Luis Abinader in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A billboard of presidential incumbent candidate Luis Abinader in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. Dominican Republic will hold general elections on May 19. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Friends and family fuss over a quinceañera in preparation for her photo session at Colon square in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Friends and family fuss over a quinceañera in preparation for her photo session at Colon square in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

An art dealer and the paintings he sells are reflected in a storefront window in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

An art dealer and the paintings he sells are reflected in a storefront window in the Zona Colonial neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Dominicans head to the polls on Sunday, May 19th to elect a new president and members of their Congress. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Haitians who earn money as moto-taxi drivers and handymen, wait for customers at the Eight batey in the Bahoruco province, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. The Dominican Republic bateyes are settlements of mostly Haitian immigrants and descendents working in the nearby sugarcane plantations. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Haitians who earn money as moto-taxi drivers and handymen, wait for customers at the Eight batey in the Bahoruco province, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. The Dominican Republic bateyes are settlements of mostly Haitian immigrants and descendents working in the nearby sugarcane plantations. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials stand on the tailgate step of a paddy wagon as they transport undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials stand on the tailgate step of a paddy wagon as they transport undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024.As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024.As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

FILE - Haitians detained for deportation look out from a police vehicle on a border bridge between Dajabon, Dominican Republic, and Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Haitians detained for deportation look out from a police vehicle on a border bridge between Dajabon, Dominican Republic, and Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Haitians hold up their immigration status documents to prove they have work permits, in Haina, Dominican Republic, March 16, 2024. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Haitians hold up their immigration status documents to prove they have work permits, in Haina, Dominican Republic, March 16, 2024. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - People wait in vain on the Haitian side of the border, to be allowed to cross into Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - People wait in vain on the Haitian side of the border, to be allowed to cross into Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Oct. 11, 2023. Dominican Republic’s election on Sunday, May 19, 2024 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Ricardo Hernandez, File)

FILE - Dominican Republic's President Luis Abinader speaks during his swearing-in ceremony in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug. 16, 2020. Abinader, the frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race as he seeks reelection, has begun to build a Trump-like border wall along Haiti’s border and carried out mass deportations of 175,000 Haitians just last year. (Orlando Barria/Pool via AP File)

FILE - Dominican Republic's President Luis Abinader speaks during his swearing-in ceremony in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug. 16, 2020. Abinader, the frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race as he seeks reelection, has begun to build a Trump-like border wall along Haiti’s border and carried out mass deportations of 175,000 Haitians just last year. (Orlando Barria/Pool via AP File)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Migration officials detain undocumented Haitians in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Thursday, May 16, 2024. As soaring violence and political turmoil grip neighboring Haiti, Dominican Republic’s election on May 19 has been defined by calls for more migratory crackdowns and finishing a border wall dividing the countries. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The third day of the Republican National Convention kicks off Wednesday with Republicans — led by the newly nominated Donald Trump and JD Vance — shifting to issues of national security and foreign policy.

Republicans are expected to focus on Democratic President Joe Biden's handling of the ongoing crises in Europe and the Middle East. Former Trump administration officials are expected to take the stage to outline what foreign policy would look like in a second Trump term.

That will likely include speeches from Richard Grenell, Trump's former acting director of national intelligence, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

And Vance is expected to accept his party's nomination for vice president.

Here’s what to watch for on the third day of the RNC:

Despite his celebrity after publishing the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” the 39-year-old Ohio senator is unknown to many Americans — and even to many top Republicans in Milwaukee. He'll get the chance to address a national audience Wednesday.

Expect a speech that introduces his family — his wife, Usha, and their three children — and his endorsement of Trump's policies.

Vance beat out North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to be Trump's running mate. He has developed a strong rapport with the former president over the years, speaking on the phone regularly.

Trump has also complimented Vance’s beard, saying he “looks like a young Abraham Lincoln."

Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro was released from prison in Florida on Wednesday and is expected to speak hours later at the Republican National Convention.

Navarro, who was a Trump trade adviser, was released from custody after completing his four-month sentence for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Navarro will head straight to Milwaukee to speak at the third night of the RNC. He is set to speak in the 6 p.m. hour Central time, according to a person familiar with the schedule who spoke on the condition of anonymity before the schedule’s official release.

Many of the speeches Wednesday will take aim at the Biden administration's handling of global issues, including the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, with the theme of “Make America Strong Once Again.”

“Under Joe Biden, the weakest commander-in-chief in our country’s history, America has become a global laughingstock,” the committee put out in an advance release.

Republicans see foreign policy as one of their strongest campaign issues, arguing that America's standing on the world stage was stronger under Trump despite the party's growing isolationist shift.

“I can tell you, countries around the world, leaders, are absolutely uncomfortable with the unpredictability of Donald Trump," Grenell, Trump’s former ambassador to Germany, said during a reporters' roundtable Monday. “And when I say uncomfortable, that means they don’t know exactly what he’s going to do next. And that’s a positive for us.”

It is an argument he will likely make again Wednesday night.

While the focus of Wednesday's session is expected to be beyond America's borders, Republicans are expected to also highlight how Biden's supposed “weakness” on immigration is also endangering our reputation abroad. Many speakers have already documented claims that a growing number of foreign terrorists have been able to illegally get into the U.S. from Mexico. Republicans have pointed to the arrests last month on U.S. soil of eight people from Tajikistan with suspected ties to the Islamic State group.

Convention organizers are not expected to announce who will speak on the event’s second day until later Wednesday morning.

Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Follow the AP's coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

A supporter holds his hat during the national anthem at the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A supporter holds his hat during the national anthem at the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Georgia delegate Kathleen Thornman takes a picture with her phone during the Republican National Convention Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Georgia delegate Kathleen Thornman takes a picture with her phone during the Republican National Convention Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Delegates dance during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Delegates dance during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is seen during a walkthrough for the Republican National Convention Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Former US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is seen during a walkthrough for the Republican National Convention Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Texas delegates cheer during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Texas delegates cheer during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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