"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 - 1945)
The trafficking of Haitians into the Dominican Republic could be characterized as the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere. Fleeing from bleak economic prospects at home, around 30,000 Haitians are smuggled each year into the Dominican Republic to work in the sugar industry under conditions which Ambassador John Miller, formerly from the Office of Human Trafficking at the US State Department has defined as slavery. This travesty has taken place for decades, with the complicity and participation of the Dominican governments immigration authorities, the sugar industry, and under the noses of the worlds wealthiest business and political elite, including US Congressmen, former US Presidents, and business tycoons from all over the world.
In its 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department placed the Dominican Republic on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly in terms of providing increased assistance to victims and undertaking vigorous actions to counter official complicity with trafficking activity. The report states: Some Haitians, including children, are trafficked to the Dominican Republic for forced labor in agriculture and construction sectors; many live in squalid shantytowns known as bateyes, a fact well documented in The Sugar Babies.
In addition, the report claims that there were reports that some officials conspired with employers to repatriate trafficked persons of Haitian descent if they attempted to leave exploitative work environments, forcing them to leave behind their pay and belongings.