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After 8 years in bureaucratic limbo, Dominican government certifies citizenship of 55,000

AP10ThingsToSee - Current and retired Haitian sugarcane workers listen to leader Jesus Nuñez as they protest one block from the Interior Ministry to demand their pensions and legal residency status, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The head of the immigration agency in the Dominican Republic says the country is ready to resume deporting non-citizens without legal residency after putting the practice on hold for a year. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

AP10ThingsToSee - Current and retired Haitian sugarcane workers listen to leader Jesus Nuñez as they protest one block from the Interior Ministry to demand their pensions and legal residency status, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The head of the immigration agency in the Dominican Republic says the country is ready to resume deporting non-citizens without legal residency after putting the practice on hold for a year. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

The Dominican Republic announced Friday that it has certified the nationality of about 55,000 people who had spent eight years in bureaucratic limbo because their citizenship was in doubt.

The locally born descendants of Haitian immigrants had been on the point of losing their citizenship because the government and courts argued their parents had been in the country illegally. Tens of thousands had trouble enrolling in school, travelling, getting formal work, marrying or registering children for lack of residence documents.

Under a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, the measure affected offspring of undocumented immigrants born between 1929 and 2007, leading to an outcry by human rights advocates.

President Danilo Medina announced the certification Friday at a summit in Guatemala.

"It will be good news when the 55,000, to the last person among them, can effectively get all their documents and at last register their children," said Robin Guittard, head of campaigns in the Caribbean for Amnesty International.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants are at risk of being deported under a government crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

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