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Dominican Republic offers help to migrants willing to leave after deadline to seek legal stay

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Migrants who would like to leave the Dominican Republic ahead of a wave of expected deportations are being offered help from the government of the Caribbean country.

The migration agency says it has started a free bus service to take migrants to the border with Haiti. The agency says the program will run for two weeks starting Tuesday.

The announcement Monday follows the June 17 deadline for migrants to apply for legal residency under a program aimed at regulating the flow of migrants across the porous border with Haiti.

Deputy Interior Minister Washington Gonzalez said the government is reviewing nearly 290,000 applications for legal residency.

Authorities have warned that anyone without proof of legal residency faces deportations but there have as yet been no large-scale immigration raids.

PHOTO: In this Thursday, June 18, 2015 photo, Milene Monime, 16, sits as her two-month-old son Jefferson Thezon, center, sleeps next to another person's child inside a school classroom where her family and others are staying after being deported the previous day from neighboring Dominican Republic, in the village of Fonbaya, Haiti. People began preparing Thursday for deportation from the Dominican Republic after failing to obtain legal residency as part of a government program to crack down on migrants, most of them from neighboring Haiti or of Haitian descent. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
In this Thursday, June 18, 2015 photo, Milene Monime, 16, sits as her two-month-old son Jefferson Thezon, center, sleeps next to another person's child inside a school classroom where her family and others are staying after being deported the previous day from neighboring Dominican Republic, in the village of Fonbaya, Haiti. People began preparing Thursday for deportation from the Dominican Republic after failing to obtain legal residency as part of a government program to crack down on migrants, most of them from neighboring Haiti or of Haitian descent. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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PHOTO: In this Thursday, June 18, 2015 photo, a youth who was recently deported from neighboring Dominican Republic with his family plays with a truck made from a vegetable oil bottle and bottle caps, outside a school building where residents have allowed the families to stay, in the village of Fonbaya, Haiti. Thousands of people began preparing Thursday for deportation from the Dominican Republic after failing to obtain legal residency as part of a government program to crack down on migrants, most of them from neighboring Haiti or of Haitian descent. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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