Faces of a divided island

Updated 3:22 PM ET, Wed April 13, 2016

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (CNN)The anti-immigrant rhetoric on the radio, in shops and in the streets is familiar:

The influx from our poorer neighbor is overwhelming. They steal jobs. They are dangerous. They take advantage of our laws.
So is the counterweight:
They are seeking better lives. They do the labor-intensive jobs locals won't. They contribute to the economy.
This isn't about building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border or deporting undocumented Central American immigrants. It's an argument taking place 700 miles off the coast of Miami on the island of Hispaniola, home to the Dominican Republic and Haiti -- two nations divided by history as much as a border.
It's an uneasy coexistence for countries whose intertwined histories of colonization, conquest and racism over the centuries have left deep wounds.
    In recent years, controversial court rulings and laws have renewed tensions in the Dominican Republic.
    Hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent were stripped of their citizenship and forced to prove they were born here. Hundreds of thousands more who are undocumented immigrants have been forced to register with the government.
    In a political fight with arguments similar to the debate in the United States, the immigration hard-liners won. Last year I traveled across the Dominican Republic and Haiti to see the fallout from that battle. Among the people I met: A soccer player who left the Dominican national team because she couldn't prove her nationality, a law student fighting for Haitians' rights, and a woman who saw her town divided along racial lines.
    Here are their stories amid scenes of life on the island.
    Raquel Aristilde de Valdez, a Dominican of Haitian descent, is a business owner in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.