Yesterday afternoon I was checking my Google News page, following up on certain topics that interest me and this was the headline that greeted me when I clicked on the "Dominican Republic" portion of my customized news page:
(Bloomberg) -- Anne Dimanche Saintil was born in the Dominican Republic, earned her nursing degree there and worked at a hospital in the capital, Santo Domingo. Then she was fired, because her parents were from Haiti.
Dimanche is among as many as 110,000 people living in the Dominican Republic without any legal status after the government, following a Supreme Court decision, began denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of undocumented immigrants, almost all of whom came from neighboring Haiti. She said she lacks official paperwork on her birth because she was born at home, and now fears she’ll be deported to Haiti, a country she doesn’t know. [emphasis added]Before I continue I would like to make clear that I am not writing about Ms. Dimanchi Saintil, but about what reporter Ezra Feiser claims happened to her. I don't know her and I don't have special knowledge of her circumstances. But I know certain things that put into question the veracity of Mr. Fieser account of her story.
The biggest hole in the story is Ms. Dimanchi Saintil status as an undocumented Dominican, given the fact that she is a nurse. In the Dominican Republic you need to either go to college or nursing school to get a degree that would allow you to work in a hospital as a nurse. To get into college, you need to have a high school degree ("escuela secundaria" in the Dominican Republic). And in the Dominican Republic, to get a high school degree you need to have a birth certificate.
Please, don't just believe me but check it yourself in this link to the rules published by the Dominican Ministry of Education in order to attend school in the country. This is not a small detail; it is in fact at the center of Mr. Fieser story. Is Ms. Dimanchi Saintil is indeed undocumented, how did she went to school without the necessary paperwork?
You would think that Mr. Fieser would delve into that, because if the claim that Ms. Dimanchi lacked "official paperwork on her birth because she was born at home" is not true, then he either has no story of we're talking about something else here. But we don't know because Mr. Fieser apparently didn't bother to check.
In fact, not even halfway into the story Mr. Fieser is quoting "Carlos Ponce, director of Latin America programs at Freedom House, a Washington-based organization". For non-geography buffs, Washington is about 1,500 miles away from Santo Domingo (where Mr. Fieser is located). So instead of following up on the story where he is, he follows the usual template of checking with a NGO or "human rights" organization outside of the country.
I'm not a journalist, but what I would do is go to the hospital and try to find out why Ms. Dimanchi Saintil was fired. Yes, they might tell me "we can't discuss this case right now" but maybe they want to talk "off the record" or maybe some of Ms. Dimanchi Saintil colleagues would be willing to talk and support her story... I don't know... like I said... I'm not a journalist.
I wrote an email to Mr. Fieser editors at Bloomberg looking for comments; I also copied Mr. Fieser and I have yet to hear back from him. I think there is a valid story here, as Mr. Fieser manages to scratch the surface on some of it.
But given that Mr. Fieser doesn't seems to be interested at all in reporting the facts on this case, I won't hold my breath waiting for something more.