Join DUSA on March 31, 2017 As We Honor 1938 Sanctuary of Jewish Refugees in The Dominican Republic

Join DUSA on March 31, 2017 As We Honor 1938 Sanctuary of Jewish Refugees in The Dominican Republic

On Friday, March 31, 2017, the Office of the Dean for Community Relations at Hostos Community College (CUNY) will host a reception and program that will honor individuals who have contributed to research findings or projects associated with the 1938 Jewish migration to Sosúa, Dominican Republic. Honorees include DUSA Board Member Dr. Ramona Hernández, Dominican Consul Carlos Castillo, and Congressman Adriano Espaillat. The event is sponsored by the Dominican Studies Association, Dominicanos USA, American Jewish Committee (AJC), and the City University of New York. Please RSVP by phone at (718) 664-2752 or email at More information about the event can be found in the flyer below:

DUSA participates in Student Voter Registration Day at Walton High School

DUSA participates in Student Voter Registration Day at Walton High School

On Friday, March 17, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) participated in the annual Student Voter Registration Day (SVRD), thus providing our young people with a voice. Our efforts resulted in hundreds of students receiving a lesson in civic awareness. At Walton High School in the Bronx, we empowered the youth by participating in an information session where we answered questions and spoke to students about the importance of civic engagement. We partnered with NYC Votes, New York City Council, Department of Education, and New York Immigration Coalition to make this happened.

Special Guest Edgar “Shoboy” Sotelo, host of the Shoboy Show on 92.3 AMP radio attended a pep rally in the afternoon and gave the students an inspirational talk about the power of hard work and determination. He shared his “chancleta story” with the students which highlighted for them the importance of always projecting a positive image on behalf of yourself and your family.

SVRD is a local initiative that launched March 20, 2015 to raise awareness about the importance of student voter registration. This initiative came to fruition through a joint collaboration between NYC Votes, New York City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, and members of the New Yok City Council. This city-wide initiative has led to over 10,000 high school students registering to vote. In the coming years, DUSA intends to remain a part of SVRD for years to come so that we can continue to provide this message of civic engagement to our youth.

View some of the pictures from our day of raising civic awareness below:

DUSA Joins Brooklyn Borough President’s Office to Host Massive Citizenship Workshop on Saturday, March 25, 2017

DUSA Joins Brooklyn Borough President’s Office to Host Massive Citizenship Workshop on Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dominicanos USA (DUSA) will hold its monthly DUSA Citizenship Workshop this upcoming Saturday, March 25, 2017 beginning at 9:00 a.m. The citizenship drive will take place in the office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

This free citizenship workshop will take place at the following address:
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

National Executive Director Eddie Cuesta is quoted in an official press release put out by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Dominicanos USA urges all eligible and legal permanent residents with no minor offense to take the initial step of becoming a naturalized citizen. United States citizens are afforded opportunities not available to residents, as citizenship improves one’s quality of life. A citizen can exercise their right to vote, has easier travel and re-entry into the United States, can apply for federal jobs and scholarships only open tocitizens, and also has access to a multitude of other benefits.”

Mr. Cuesta’s quote can be found in several media outlets including the following newspapers and online mediums:

The Post Eagle (English)

Diario Digital (Espanol)


A Guest Post About the Jerome Ave Rezoning

A Guest Post About the Jerome Ave Rezoning


Some information about the Jerome Avenue rezoning: The City of New York is proposing a rezoning plan for Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, which encompasses all of Jerome Avenue between E 165th Street to the south and 184th street to the north; and also includes sections of Edward L. Grant Highway, E 170th Street, Mount Eden Avenue, Tremont Avenue, Burnside Avenue and E 183rd Street. All areas where a high population of Dominicans reside. In total this plan constitutes more than 70 blocks in the Jerome Avenue area. As of right now, the NYC Department of City Planning’s proposal consists of building a great deal of new residential units, but does not have any measures to protect current Bronx residents, most of whom are Dominican, from rising rent, displacement, or increased harassment from landlords that will most likely occur as a result the rezoning; neither does it outline how the resulting construction jobs will be regulated to make sure they are safe, well-paid, and for local residents; the proposal also doesn’t address the multitude of auto shop business that will be displaced and the hundreds of jobs that will be lost in the auto industry as a result of the rezoning.


Why should Dominicans care? The Jerome Avenue rezoning would affect District 4 and 5 in the Bronx, a major residential area for Dominicans in New York. This proposal would not only give incentive for increased landlord harassment, it will most likely lead to increased rental prices in the area for residents and small business owners. In addition, the proposed rezoning forces the majority of Jerome Avenue auto shops–many of which are owned and operated by Dominican immigrant men–to leave without anywhere to go; therefore taking away a primary source of income for many Dominican men in the Bronx. All of these factors would make it even harder for Dominicans to live in the Bronx.


In response to NYC Department of City Planning’s Jerome Avenue rezoning plan, the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision was formed. This Coalition aims to make the Jerome Avenue rezoning planning process a collaborative effort between the City government and the thousands of residents and business owners affected by this proposal and hold our government officials accountable to policies and regulations around the Jerome Avenue rezoning. Through extensive surveys and multiple community meetings, the Bronx Coalition has highlighted key issues for the Jerome Avenue rezoning:


  1. Anti-displacement strategies for current residential and commercial tenants. Current tenants and small business owners will not benefit from the rezoning if the rezoning increases rents, speculation, and the forces of displacement. The City should take steps to ensure that the people and businesses that are here now are protected and are able to stay.
  2. Real affordable housing. All of the new housing built in the community should be at rent levels that reflect the need in the community.
  3. Good jobs and local hire. New construction and businesses will mean a lot of new jobs in the area and the City should guarantee that those jobs create career opportunities for local residents. Also, developers should not be allowed to build unless they commit to using contractors that are part of State Department of Labor Registered and Approved Apprenticeship programs.
    1. Safety and training. There recently has been an alarming increase in construction worker fatalities and life changing injuries in New York City. 18 construction workers died in the field from the beginning of 2015 to date. The City must mandate provisions for worker safety and training to ensure our most vulnerable workers are protected.
  4. Real community engagement. Residents need to have a say over what happens in the community, and the City should have long-term tools to ensure accountability for implementing commitments made during rezoning approval process, including a role for community in overseeing progress. The community needs this to ensure that the rezoning is actually part of a community plan that is effective and fully implemented.

As a prominent Latino community, we need to make sure that the Jerome Avenue rezoning plan benefits both long-term Bronx residents and newcomers. Get involved:

  1. Attend monthly rezoning campaign meetings on the first Thursday of every month, from 6PM-8PM at 1501 Jerome Avenue, Bronx. There is food, childcare, and interpretation (English and Spanish). The next meeting on March 2nd will be a Town Hall on the state of the Jerome Avenue rezoning with elected officials, Council Members Vanessa Gibson and Fernando Cabrera.
  2. Sign this petition online and encourage others to do so.
  3. Attend Bronx Voices: Empowering Community in the Face of Rezoning, a community event showcasing Bronx visual and performing artists, as well as an open mic session for anyone to sign up and express themselves through song, story-telling, poetry, etc. The event will take place on February 25th at 5PM at 1501 Jerome Ave, Bronx.
  4. Keep up to date on the NYC Department of City Planning’s Jerome Avenue rezoning plan by visiting their website, along with events and rallies organized by the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision.

Together we need to find a way..

to move forward with the Jerome Avenue rezoning plan without displacement, exploitation, and harassment in the Bronx–a plan that benefits both current Bronx residents and new residents. Otherwise, we risk losing one of the last neighborhoods where low-income New Yorkers can afford to live and we risk losing the diversity and vibrancy of our City.



Katie Milagros Duarte

Dominicanos USA Guest Blogger

Bronx resident and graduate of Vassar College. Katie is a member of Bronx Rising, a group that aims to get Bronxites to re-engage with their communities by creating spaces, dialogues, and events to re-awaken the love for their communities and focus on celebrations and issues that affect the people of the Bronx.

“Retracing their Footsteps: A Window into Dominican American Contributions”

“Retracing their Footsteps: A Window into Dominican American Contributions”

dominican-republic-654230__480 As part of the Hispanic / Latino voting bloc, Dominican Americans exercised their right to vote in record numbers these past 2016 general elections. In the United States, Dominican Americans comprise one of the fastest growing ethnic groups. According to the 2010 Census, Dominican-descended people account for 1.5 million of the U.S. population. Citizenship and incorporation is not necessarily a new concept among Dominicans. When discussing Ellis Island migration, scholars and writers in general often overlook non-European immigrants. A little known fact—thanks to pioneering research currently being conducted at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute—is that between 1892 and 1924 more than 5,000 people from the Dominican Republic—mostly affluent—entered the United States through New York’s Ellis Island port. Nonetheless, people from the Dominican Republic have a long and well-documented history serving the United States as government officials, military personnel, thinkers, sports figures, and also in other capacities. The Dominican presence is not a new phenomenon. In the early half of the twentieth-century, María Montéz captivated television audiences, garnering the title of Hollywood’s “Queen of Technicolor” due to her work on the silver screen. Also in the 1940s and 1950s, U.S. opinion leaders including members of the press crowned Dominican diplomat Porfirio Rubirosa as the original playboy and jet-set king. It has been noted that Rubirosa inspired James Flemming’s James Bond character. A decade later, Baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher Juan Marichal won more games than any other professional Major League Baseball player in the sixties. Dominican Americans have undoubtedly impacted U.S. pop culture.


A Presence since 1613

Tvintage-luggage-652875_1920he examples noted above are of individuals who have reached mainstream audiences, yet unbeknown to many still, Dominican-descended people have had a presence in the fabric of United States society since 1613. Santo Domingo-born Juan Rodriguez arrived on the Dutch merchant ship Jonge Tobias that docked on present-day Hudson Harbor, New York. Rodriguez’s name is etched in history as the first non-native resident of New York, as per archival sources. As an empowered man of color during the colonial era, Rodriguez exercised his right as a free man when he refused to return to Holland in the seventeenth century. Dominican-descended people who follow suit by migrating to the United States also exhibit that spirit to exercise their rights in the United States through their vote and by leaving an imprint on America through their unique contributions. Approximately 250 years after Rodriguez’s arrival, President Abraham Lincoln promoted José Gabriel Luperón to the rank of captain for his service in the U.S. Civil War. Luperón may ring a bell for those familiar with Dominican history as Captain José Gabriel Luperón was the brother of President Gregorio Luperón, a champion of democracy and prominent leader who battled Spain to reclaim Dominican Independence in 1865.


Defending America’s Values 

statue-of-liberty-648643_1920Following in the footsteps of Captain Luperón, Dominican Americans have served the United States government in a multitude of capacities as military personnel, elected officials, and as other types of government representatives. For instance, more than 300 Dominican women and men served in the United States military during World War II. Between 2003 and 2004 the Dominican Republic deployed approximately 600 soldiers to Iraq in partnership with the United States. In addition, many more Dominicans and Dominican-descended people served in other capacities, especially during moments of crisis such as the Vietnam War, Korean War, and other critical moments in U.S. history. On the November 8th elections, Daisy Baez made history when she was elected to the State of Florida House of Representatives. Baez, who was born in Santo Domingo, joined the United States Army at the age of 19. Unlike Luperón and Baez, however, the stories of countless Dominican Americans who served the United States—and who in some cases lost their lives—will never come to light, yet this does not mean their efforts should be forgotten.divgreyblack

Intellectual Footprint

Today we celebrate Dominican scholars such as Junot Diaz and Julia Alvarez, each whose works have crossed the mainstream. Diafootprintz was the first Dominican and second person of Latino / Hispanic heritage to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008). Alvarez received the National Medal of Arts from President Barrack Obama in 2013. Alvarez’s award-winning poetry and prose have garnered her multiple awards. Her novel In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) has been adapted into films and screen plays. Prior to this boom in Dominican writers, Dominican intellectuals and their descendants have been leaving their literary imprint since as early as the nineteenth century. Las Novedades, a Spanish-language newspaper founded in New York in the late eighteenth-century, underwent Dominican ownership between 1914 and 1918 when Francisco José Peynado and Juan Bautista Vicini Burgos purchased the New York-based paper. Renowned writers such as Manuel de Jesús Galván and Pedro Henríquez Ureña served among the contributors. Pedro Henríquez Ureña, one of the earliest Dominican migrants to earn a doctoral degree in the United States from the University of Minnesota in 1918, taught at Minnesota and also at Harvard University. Having survived multiple foreign occupations and internal conflicts such as the thirty-year dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (1930-1961), Dominicans and their descendants come from a tradition of civic engagement and political involvement, that migrants have brought with them to United States soil. In 1991, Guillermo Linares and Kay Palacios made history when they were elected into public office in New York and New Jersey, respectively. Several Dominican Americans followed suit being elected to office or as appointees. However, decades earlier Dominican Americans founded civic, cultural, and social aid organizations such as the Hijos de Duarte in the 1930s, the Centro Cívico y Cultural Dominicano in 1962, and Dominican Women’s Development Center in 1988. Today, Dominicanos USA (DUSA) engages young people and adults by instilling them with pride and building political power. DUSA accomplishes the aforementioned goals through voter registration and by providing a path toward citizenship. Most of these organizations have provided assistance or an important service to Dominicans and non-Dominican communities throughout the United States. Among the services such organizations have provided include after school programs for the youth, mental counseling, and assistance with alcoholism and drug addiction. Dominican Americans have been instrumental in shaping policy, delivering crucial information to their communities, have educated many Americans, and prestigious awards have been bestowed upon them as recognition. Contributions by Dominican Americans cannot be forgotten and should be discussed.


  1. Ramona Hernández, “The Dominican American Family,” in Ethnic Families in America: Patterns and Variations, 5 th ed., eds. Roosevelt H. Wright Jr. et al (Boston: Pearson, 2012), 151.
  2. For more information, see Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, Tom Weterings, and Leonor Álvarez Francés, Juan Rodriguez and the Beginnings of New York City (New York: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, 2013).
  3. Silvio Torres-Saillant, “Before the Diaspora: Early Dominican Literature in the United States,” vol. 3 of Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, eds. María Herrera-Sobek and Virginia Sánchez Korrol (Houston: Arte Público, 2000), 258.
  4. Sarah Aponte and Franklin Gutiérrez, Autores dominicanos de la diáspora: apuntes bio-bibliográficos (1902-2012) (Santo Domingo: Biblioteca Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña, 2013, 11.
  5. Silvio Torres-Saillant, “Before the Diaspora: Early Dominican Literature in the United States,” vol. 3 of Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, eds. María Herrera-Sobek and Virginia Sánchez Korrol (Houston: Arte Público, 2000), 106-107.

This article was written by Nelson Santana from research he conducted for the article, “An Intellectual History of Dominican Migration to the United States,” published in Papers of the Fifty-Ninth Annual Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (2014), edited by Dr. Roberto Delgadillo.

DUSA was featured in a recent Voices of New York story – Getting Out the Dominican Vote

DUSA was featured in a recent Voices of New York story – Getting Out the Dominican Vote

Canvassers from Dominicanos USA walk down the street in Corona, Queens. “We get to meet a lot of people and develop those bonds with the community,” says Yohan Diaz, left.

Canvassers from Dominicanos USA walk down the street in Corona, Queens. “We get to meet a lot of people and develop those bonds with the community,” says Yohan Diaz, left.

by Nomin Ujiyediin

After three years working as a canvasser in New York City, Austine Martinez has learned a lot. Like how to tell whether passersby are of Dominican descent – it’s everything from the music they play, to the language they’re speaking, to the way they look.
“Little things like that, you learn on the job,” he said on a sunny afternoon spent recruiting voters in Corona, Queens.

The knowledge comes in handy in his position as a junior organizer with Dominicanos USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in the Bronx. Alongside other canvassers, Martinez has spent hours at a time pounding the pavement in heavily Dominican and Latino neighborhoods across the city like Corona, Washington Heights, Inwood and Bushwick.

Since its inception in 2013, Dominicanos USA has registered more than 140,000 voters in the Northeast, including more than 100,000 in New York and more than 30,000 in Rhode Island, where a smaller office is based. The organization’s goal is to increase the political participation of Dominicans, the largest Latino ethnic group in the city, by enabling them to vote and helping them become naturalized citizens.

Its employees and volunteers knock on doors, hand out flyers and make phone calls. But the bulk of Dominicanos USA’s efforts are focused on sending trained canvassers, like Martinez, to walk through communities, along commercial corridors and past busy intersections, in search of unregistered voters.

“We have very dedicated canvassers of all ages that have been out there in rain, snow, cold weather, doing voter registration the old-fashioned way,” said the nonprofit’s national executive director Eddie Cuesta in a phone interview.

The organization targets specific neighborhoods and even buildings based on a statistical model developed by Catalist, a data company based in Washington, D.C. Called the “Dominican model,” it uses data from the census and the city government to identify areas with the highest concentrations of Dominicans. While Dominicanos USA doesn’t exclusively register Dominican voters, this approach helps the organization to efficiently find its primary demographic, said Cuesta. And it enhances traditional “get-out-the-vote” methods, like canvassing and setting up tables.

“We get to meet a lot of people and develop those bonds with the community,” said canvasser Yohan Diaz. At the same time, talking to strangers every day means learning to get used to rejection. Some people he approaches can’t vote because they are foreign citizens, and many are suspicious or just uninterested.

Speaking Spanish helps, of course. And so does persistence. “A lot of people say no, but there’s always that one person that makes it worth it,” Diaz said.

In Austine Martinez’s experience, non-citizens from the Dominican Republic are often the ones who wish they could register. “In DR, everyone votes. Politics are big,” he said.

In the United States, the concerns of Dominican voters don’t differ from those of other citizens, according to Cuesta. The economy, affordable housing, education and immigration are all on the minds of Dominican Americans. “They’re very politically savvy,” he said.

But there are certain aspects of voting in the United States that some immigrants aren’t familiar with, like needing to register for a specific party in order to vote in primary elections, or finding the right polling place. Local residents often call or visit the Dominicanos USA office on E. 149th Street in the Bronx to ask for help, said Cuesta. And educating these voters is part of the organization’s mission.

But since the deadline to register for the presidential election passed on Oct. 14, the organization has begun to focus on making sure that registered voters follow through.

On Election Day, Dominicanos USA will provide car rides and pedestrian escorts for voters who need them. Some employees will wait outside polling places before they open at 6 a.m., making sure that they open on time and that interpreters are present. Others will come back in the evening, when many people leave work and vote, to answer questions. Others will stay in the office to monitor the phones, which ring constantly, said Omar Suarez, New York state director.

For Suarez, Election Day begins at 4 a.m. and won’t end until late in the evening, after the polls close. But the long, hectic hours of directing employees and answering phone calls are worthwhile to reach a group he feels is underserved.

“Most of the talk about the Hispanic vote, the Latino vote, it’s all filtered through somebody. This is not filtered. You just talk to them,” he said.

source: Voices of NY

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