Leaders in this northern city asked the new Dominican government to establish rules and regulations to halt the "massive" flow of undocumented Haitians across the countries' common border.
The Development Council for the Strategic Plan of Santiago, which represents 65 business, professional, community and civic institutions, said that the moment had arrived to halt the traffic and trade of people from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.
"We have a very strong invasion of Haitians that is affecting us. We need them to regulate the immigration a little, so that they take some of that burden off of us," council president Carlos Fondeur told Efe.
The group is complaining because the "uncontrolled Haitian migration" is creating social problems.
Danilo Medina, in his inaugural address as the Dominican Republic's president last Thursday, promised to create a clear and transparent immigration policy, respectful of international agreements regarding human rights.
He also said that his government will enforce the immigration laws and regulations and will tirelessly pursue corruption among civil and military officials tasked with implementing immigration measures, and the full weight of the law would fall on those found guilty of human trafficking.
Fondeur said that Santiago is the most important city near the northern part of the Dominican-Haitian border, has the greatest amount of human trafficking and is also the greatest receiving area for the majority of illegal Haitian immigrants.
"We see (them) everywhere, we see the pests on the streets, others selling everything and also participating in criminal acts," Fondeur said.
He emphasized that the situation is creating poverty belts here in the Dominican Republic's second-largest city, because the people who come from the other country have to find shelter and they do so along the streams and in the poor neighborhoods of Santiago.
"We intend for there to be a law and a clear immigration policy such that we can know what we're dealing with and how the new government will work on the issue of the Haitians," he said.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.
Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugar cane.
Thousands of Haitians fled to the Dominican Republic after the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people on Jan. 12, 2010, and displaced more than 1 million others. EFE