Dominican immigration to Puerto Rico
There's been movement of people from the territory of the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 to its eastern neighbor Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, and vice versa, since colonial times
European colonization of the Americas
The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

, but Dominican immigration to Puerto Rico has risen sharply in recent decades, with tens of thousands of arrivals since 1961. Immigrants
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 have come from the various segments of Dominican society, with quite varying levels of contribution at different times. Although the end goal of most of the immigrants is the United States, tens of thousands have remained in Puerto Rico. The recent immigration is further noted for its large undocumented or illegal component, the tragic outcomes of many of these attempts, and the consequent publicity.

1795 to 1961

Many residents of colonial Santo Domingo
History of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles.Successive waves of Arawak migrants, moving northward from the Orinoco delta in South America, settled the islands of the Caribbean. Around AD 600, the Taíno Indians, an Arawak culture,...

, now the Dominican Republic, left for Puerto Rico as a consequence of the cession of Santo Domingo to France in 1795, the Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

an invasions in 1801-1803 and the Haitian occupation of 1822-1844. Immigration continued over the next 86 years, although at a comparatively low rate.

The Dominican Rafael Trujillo dictatorship, between 1930 and 1961, greatly constrained foreign travel by Dominicans. In 1960 there were 1812 Dominicans in Puerto Rico, some of whom were the 'returning' descendants of Puerto Ricans who had themselves migrated to the Dominican Republic.

The recent period

Dominican migration increased sharply after 1961 as a result of political events, of which the first was the assassination of Trujillo that year. Many politicians and other members of the conservative former regime, as well as government employees, left the country, many of them for Puerto Rico. The next major political event to drive emigration was the coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 against the elected, leftist president Juan Bosch
Juan Bosch
Juan Emilio Bosch Gaviño was a politician, historian, short story writer, essayist, educator, and the first cleanly elected president of the Dominican Republic for a brief time in 1963. Previously, he had been the leader of the Dominican opposition in exile to the dictatorial regime of Rafael...

 in 1963. There followed the Dominican Civil War in 1965 after a revolt to restore Bosch. The United States invaded the Dominican Republic
Operation Power Pack
The second United States occupation of the Dominican Republic began when the United States Marines Corps entered Santo Domingo on April 28, 1965. They were later joined by most of the United States Army's 82nd Airborne Division and its parent XVIIIth Airborne Corps...

 a few days into the conflict, and one of its policies was to prevent renewed civil war by issuing visas to opponents or potential opponents of the new, elected, conservative, US-backed regime of Joaquín Balaguer
Joaquín Balaguer
Joaquín Antonio Balaguer Ricardo was the President of the Dominican Republic from 1960 to 1962, from 1966 to 1978, and again from 1986 to 1996.-Early life and introduction to politics:...

 (who was, like Bosch, of Puerto Rican ancestry, incidentally). Many of the visaholders travelled to Puerto Rico.

Politics continued to play a role in emigration in succeeding decades, as presidential election years produced emigration peaks whenever Balaguer — a member of the former Trujillo regime — won the presidency, as happened in 1966, 1970, 1974, 1986, and 1990. As a result, most of the Dominican emigration was middle class and skilled, including many managers and professionals.

Although there are substantial upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

 and middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 segments in the Dominican Republic, the country also has a high poverty rate, so that since the 1970s economic reasons
Economy of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has the second largest economyin the Caribbean. It is an upper middle-income developing country primarily dependent on agriculture, trade, and services, especially tourism....

 have rampantly driven emigration. Overall, between 1966 and 2002 119,000 Dominicans were legally admitted to Puerto Rico, while many thousands arrived illegally. Most emigrants, however, have been far from destitute, as they tend to be jobholders in the Dominican Republic, many in skilled occupations such as mechanic, mason, seamstress, and nurse. These migrants have been attracted by Puerto Rico's higher wages
Economy of Puerto Rico
The Economy of Puerto Rico is one of the most diverse in the Caribbean region. Services and industrial production have surpassed agriculture as the primary focus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, United States firms have invested...

, which have generally tended to rise in relation to Dominican wages since the early 1980s, when an era of frequent devaluation of the Dominican peso began. Economic crises that beset the Dominican Republic in the 1980s further increased emigration. Despite strong economic growth, the 1990s marked the peak in Dominican emigration, due to high income inequality. Severe economic crisis hit in 2003-2004, again causing a surge in emigration.

Illegal immigration

The illegal or undocumented
Illegal immigration
Illegal immigration is the migration into a nation in violation of the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration raises many political, economical and social issues and has become a source of major controversy in developed countries and the more successful developing countries.In...

 component of the Dominican immigration to Puerto Rico has increased over recent decades, becoming large enough to attract great attention, both in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The first recorded illegal trip took place in 1972, and perhaps 28% of all Dominicans in Puerto Rico were undocumented in 1996, during the peak decade of Dominican immigration to the Commonwealth; many of the documented residents had regularized their originally undocumented status. Illegal immigration has been one of the most recurrent themes in Puerto Rican news media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

 during the first decade of the 21st century.

Illegal trips usually take place in yolas (small wooden boats), usually overcrowded, as trip planners and boat captains seek to realize the greatest profit from the ventures. Most trips begin in cities located on the eastern Dominican coast, particularly in Nagua
Nagua is the capital of María Trinidad Sánchez province, in the northeastern Dominican Republic.A medium-sized town, Nagua's economy relies on the production of agricultural products, principally rice, coconuts, and cocoa bean...

. A trip on a yola takes 26–28 hours and takes place over the Puerto Rico trench
Puerto Rico Trench
The Puerto Rico Trench is an oceanic trench located on the boundary between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The trench is associated with a complex transition between the subduction zone to the south along the Lesser Antilles island arc and the major transform fault zone or plate boundary...

 (an underwater crater
Volcanic crater
A volcanic crater is a circular depression in the ground caused by volcanic activity. It is typically a basin, circular in form within which occurs a vent from which magma erupts as gases, lava, and ejecta. A crater can be of large dimensions, and sometimes of great depth...

 area), or through the Mona Passage
Mona Passage
The Mona Passage is a strait that separates the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The Mona Passage connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, and is an important shipping route between the Atlantic and the Panama Canal....

. Accounts by survivors include people being eaten alive by sharks or forced to jump into the sea when there is a danger of sinking. Others tell of seeing their loved ones left behind to drown after a heavy wave has overturned one of these yolas; yet many others tell of corpses left on board. Travelers sometimes die of starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

 or dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

, since these yolas can get lost out at sea for days and many have no type of navigation equipment on board to steer them in the right direction.

Noted tragedies on such trips include a 1989 sinking near Mona Island where as many as 500 perished, and other, comparatively small tragedies where groups of 30 or more passengers have died. Perhaps the most famous of these tragic trips was the Nagua Tragedy, named so because the yola heading to Puerto Rico that time sunk while trying to make its way out of a beach in Nagua. More than one hundred died, including the boat's captain and the trip planner.

In November 2008, a group of 33 illegal Dominican migrants who were en route to Puerto Rico were forced to resort to cannibalism after they were lost at sea for over 15 days before being rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 patrol boat.

It should be pointed out that not all illegal trips to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic end in tragedy. These trips are massively scheduled by traffickers, who sometimes travel up to three times each week from Puerto Rico to illegally bring Dominicans. But, because of the large amount of lives that have been lost in many of these trips, both the governments of Puerto Rico
Government of Puerto Rico
The Government of Puerto Rico is a republican form of government subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty. Its current powers are all delegated by the United States Congress and lack full protection under the United States Constitution...

 and the Dominican Republic have launched mass media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 campaigns to try to reduce them. In the Dominican Republic, videos of dead bodies on the water are shown on television to try to deter people from travelling to Puerto Rico on yolas. The traffickers face long periods in jail if caught, whereas the travelers are deported to the Dominican Republic, where they do not face criminal charges.

Current circumstances

Dominicans in Puerto Rico are largely disadvantaged politically
Politics of Puerto Rico
The politics of Puerto Rico take place in the framework of a republican democratic form of government that is under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United States of America as an organized unincorporated territory....

 — in great part because so many are not citizens. They are also disadvantaged economically, and possess on average much lower levels of education
Education in Puerto Rico
Education in Puerto Rico is overseen by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico under the Government of Puerto Rico, which provides primary and secondary school education....

 than the mainstream of Puerto Ricans on the island. This is in contrast to their situation in the 1970s, when a demographic study considered Dominican immigrants to be "privileged" and an "elite", as a large percentage of Dominican immigrants were professionals and managers. Their present characteristics have made them easy victims for ethnic discrimination, which include accusations of excessive use of government programs. They are often targets of prejudice and racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 as well. In response, dozens of organizations have sprouted to increase the group's political participation, although these efforts' full effectiveness is hampered by inadequate coordination.

The group is not ignored by Dominican politicians, however. The main Dominican parties campaign in Puerto Rico during presidential elections and raise important amounts of funds from the Dominican residents. Dominicans in Puerto Rico send millions of dollars per month to their relatives in the Dominican Republic, and are thus also important as a source of foreign currency for the D.R.

The 2010 census estimated a population of 68,036 Dominicans in Puerto Rico, equal to 1.8% of the Commonwealth's population. Data from the 2000 census shows that 55% of this group lived in San Juan municipality
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan , officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista , is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of...

, 11% in Carolina
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Carolina is a city located in the northern part of Puerto Rico, bordering the Atlantic Ocean; it lies north of Gurabo and Juncos; east of Trujillo Alto and San Juan; and west of Canóvanas and Loíza. Carolina is spread over 12 wards plus Carolina Pueblo...

, and 7% in Bayamón
Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Bayamón is a municipality of Puerto Rico located on the northern coastal valley, north of Aguas Buenas and Comerío; south of Toa Baja and Cataño; west of Guaynabo; and east of Toa Alta and Naranjito. Bayamón is spread over 11 wards and Bayamón Pueblo...

. Women form a fairly large majority of the Dominicans in Puerto Rico. Intermarriage rates with Puerto Ricans are also high.

Economically, Dominicans contribute most as unskilled and low-paid service workers, as operators, laborers and craftspeople, and they are well represented as small business owners. Their ratio of managers and professionals — 24% in 1970, higher than for mainstream Puerto Ricans at that time — is now much lower. However, Dominicans are employed in all occupations and industrial sectors of Puerto Rico's economy. Many members of the group have attained prominence and fame as entertainers, including musicians, singers, actors, and presenters.

Notable immigrants and descendants

  • José Alberto
    José Alberto
    José Alberto is a Dominican salsa singer. José Alberto moved to Puerto Rico with his family at the age of 7, and inspired by Latin music went on to polish his singing at Las Antillas Military Academy...

     - singer
  • Nancy Alvarez
    Nancy Alvarez (psychologist)
    Nancy Alvarez is a Dominican television personality who, as a psychologist, sexologist and family therapist, is best known for hosting the talk show ¿Quién Tiene La Razón? [Who's Right?]...

     - psychologist and talk show host
  • Charytín
    Charytín Goyco , better known in the show business plainly as Charytín, is a singer, television presenter and actress from the Dominican Republic...

     - actress and singer
  • Edwin Encarnación
    Edwin Encarnación
    Edwin Elpidio Encarnación , is a Dominican Republic Major League Baseball utility player with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 6 ft 2 in, 235-pound Encarnación bats and throws right-handed....

     - professional baseball player
  • Magali Febles
    Magali Febles
    Magali Esperanza Febles Moretta is a beautician and beauty pageant circuit personality. She was the former owner of two salons, Magali Febles Salon and Spa in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which she later sold in order to concentrate her energy on running Miss Puerto Rico Universe and Miss Dominican...

     - beautician and international beauty pageant expert
  • Bartolomé Gamundi
    Bartolomé Gamundi
    Bartolomé Gamundi, born in the Dominican Republic, is a businessman who was appointed by Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá as his last Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce and president of the Commerce and Export Company of the government of Puerto Rico and...

     - businessman and former government official
  • Miguelito
    Miguelito (artist)
    Miguel A. Valenzuela Morales , known as Miguelito, is a Puerto Rican reggaeton artist. He has released four albums.-Personal life:Miguelito is the youngest son of a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother...

     - rapper (Dominican father)
  • Amaury Nolasco
    Amaury Nolasco
    Amaury Nolasco Garrido is a Puerto Rican actor, best known for the role of Fernando Sucre on the television series Prison Break, and for his role in Transformers.-Early life:...

     - actor (born in Puerto Rico to Dominican immigrants)
  • Pedro Saúl Pérez
    Pedro Saúl Pérez
    Pedro Saúl Pérez was a Dominican advocate for the rights of Dominican immigrants and migrants in Puerto Rico. Pérez was the founder and president of the Dominican Committee for Human Rights of Puerto Rico....

     - advocate for the rights of Dominicans living in Puerto Rico
  • Rafael José
    Rafael José
    Dr. Rafael José Diaz is a Puerto Rican television show host born in Manatí, Puerto Rico, where his father, a physician born in the Dominican Republic, was the medical director of the local hospital. His family eventually moved to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, where he was raised...

     - television personality (Dominican father)
  • Shalim Ortiz
    Shalim Ortiz
    Shalim Gerardo Ortiz Goyco is a singer/actor. He is the eldest son of Puerto Rican entertainer Elin Ortiz and his wife, the Dominican singer, television presenter, and actress Charytín Goyco.-Television:...

     - actor and singer (son of Charytin)
  • Birmania Ríos
    Birmania Rios
    Birmania Ríos , is a Dominican American television news journalist.Birmania . She resided in New York until the age of four, when her family decided to relocate to Puerto Rico...

     - television journalist
  • Rosangela
    Rosangela Abreu Crespo is a Puerto Rican singer of Dominican descent who participated as a contestant in the second season of Objetivo Fama, and the second season of Latin American Idol.On Latin American Idol, she was known for a powerful voice and a good stage presence...

     - singer
  • Ludo Vika
    Ludo Vika
    Ludo Vika is a Dominican-born actress and comedian.Born in the Dominican Republic, Ludo came from a working middle-class family. At age nine, she and her family emigrated to Puerto Rico in search of better opportunities and a new life...

     - actress
  • Sandra Zaiter
    Sandra Zaiter
    Sandra Zaiter is an actress, television children's show host, singer, composer and former athlete in Puerto Rico.Zaiter was born in the Dominican Republic, of Lebanese Maronite Christian ancestry. Early in her life she participated in church groups, and established her residence in Puerto Rico...

    - actress and television host

External links

Dominican American National Roundtable Advocacy organization for people of Dominican descent in the United States and Puerto Rico
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