Immigration, Culture, and Commerce

Hi families of Global Glimpsers! This is Jessica Palomino and Benjamin Dinh, the leaders of Immigration Day! As a group, we gained a ton of insight on the immigration process at the Haitian/Dominican border.

The morning started bright and early. We boarded the bus and traveled straight to the border city of Comendador, Elias Pina. The tour started with a walkthrough of the immigration checkpoints on the Dominican side of the border. Taino Tours, Julio Enrique Adames, led the way and Global Glimpsers ended up practically a foot away from Haiti. We saw an abundance of products sold by merchants, from both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. After the tour of the border, we stopped at a museum that showcased the diverse culture of the border city, which is a blend of both elements of Haitian and Dominican religion, tradition, and lifestyle. For instance, we were able to see Christianity in addition to some voodoo traditions blended into it. The museum basically opened our eyes to the cultural fusion of this region.

Immediately following the tour, Global Glimpsers got the chance to venture around the binational market where they were able to see the hub of commerce of Comendador. We saw produce and toiletries coming from both sides of the border. We also learned about the illegal products that were often smuggled through successfully. These included alcohol, cigarettes, and GARLIC!! The reason that Haitian garlic is illegal in the DR is because it is cheaper than the garlic grown in the home country. After all of this hectic exploration, the morning ended with a scrumptious lunch- buffet style!

Reflecting on this entire experience, we thought of the inequalities of the immigration process. The guards at each checkpoint did not check all individuals passing through, but they chose to only do so for suspected illegal immigrants. Therefore, the protocol is not regulated or standardized, since everything is based on the perspective of the guards. Additionally, we learned that the DR has a law stating that all Haitian immigrants will be refused Dominican citizenship for THREE GENERATIONS. And this goes both ways, so if you were an immigrant in the DR, the rule applies to your parents as well as children. A parallel can be drawn between this corruption and our own immigration issues in the United States, especially at the US/Mexican border. Immigration Day taught us that yes, there are problems of immigration in almost every country, but that should just draw attention to our very own immigration issues. We are not perfect in any way so we should be working towards improving our own border laws.


To Jessica’s family: OMG I miss you guys so much, especially Gabriel!! I am having so much fun here, making friends and learning about the different culture. Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! I am only accepting pizza and/or pasta when I get home so be prepared. Love you!!

To Benjamin’s family: I miss you so much Mom and Dad! I am having a fantastic time in the Dominican Republic and each day is packed with learning. I’m looking forward to coming back to San Jose so that I can tell you about everything I’ve done. I love you Mom and Dad!

PS: Happy Early Father’s Day from the both of us!