As search and rescue missions in the Bahamas sadly turn to recovery efforts, those who were impacted by Hurricane Dorian are still grappling with what has happened and where to go from here. Hundreds boarded a ferry to the U.S. late last week only to be told to disembark if didn’t have a U.S. visa, a requirement not needed in the past for Bahamians to enter the country. Now, Trump is doubling down on his decision not to allow them entry, saying there could be “very bad people” onboard.
“We have to be very careful,” he told reporters outside the White House before leaving for a campaign rally. “Everyone needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas who weren’t supposed to be there.”
He continued on, saying, without evidence, that the people looking to leave the devastated island could be criminals. “I don’t want to allow people who weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very very bad drug dealers,” he said.
People are understandably outraged that the president would make such unfounded claims about a group of people who have just lost everything and are seeking refuge while they determine how to rebuild:
— ResisterLover (@LoverResister) September 9, 2019
Yes, all those rapists and murderers were just waiting for a major hurricane to destroy their island so they could come to the United States and wreak hell on us all. And I’m sure before that 20-foot wall of water hit, everyone made sure they had their traveling papers in order.
— Mark Mahoney (@MarkCMahoney99) September 9, 2019
He really meant to say “Some very dark people”.
No one is fooled.
— Rocky Mountain Views (@RockyMountViews) September 9, 2019
Trump: not okay with letting “very bad people” into the US from the Bahamas
Also Trump: *sets a meeting with the Taliban in the US*
— Blake (@BHall_6) September 9, 2019
Right, but when their houses were flooded and they were being pulled out of windows after their family members were crushed, drowned, or swept out to sea, they should have just grabbed their passports. To, you know, prove they weren’t drug dealers.
— Jenny G (@ThisIsJennyG) September 10, 2019
They are fleeing a disaster. What is wrong with this person. Something is very wrong with him. He is soulless.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) September 10, 2019
Of course. They may have lost everything they own, but they managed to somehow cling on to their documents AND keep them dry while struggling not to get swept away & drown. FFS . . . I’m lost for words for this sack of toxic gas now.
— Spacejunkie (@Spacejunkie4) September 9, 2019
Trump issued his remarks hours after Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, announced that the U.S. would be fast-tracking its immigration procedures to help process new arrivals from the Bahamas. “We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here,” Morgan said. “If your life is in jeopardy and you’re in the Bahamas and you want to get to the United States, you’re going to be allowed to come to the United States, whether you have travel documents or not.”
According to Bloomberg, the death toll as a result of Dorian has reached 50 and thousands are still missing. Some 70,000 people there have reportedly been left homeless. Emergency officials reported that mortuary facilities on the island of New Providence are “overwhelmed” as workers store bodies.
Big problems on the ferry from Freeport to Florida — announcement just made that any Bahamian without a visa must now get off. This is not normal. Nornally Bahamians can travel to USA with passport and a printout of their police record. This is a mess. pic.twitter.com/DESUm2qBGE
— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) September 8, 2019
Prior to Dorian, the existing U.S. policy allowed for Bahamians to “enter the United States without a visa by providing a passport and proof of no criminal record and going through pre-screening conducted by CBP in Freeport and Nassau,” Washington Post reports.
Though aid to the people of the Bahamas is slowly coming, it will be years before the devastation is cleared and a new way of life begins. These people need help now — not months from now. They are suffering unspeakable tragedy and it remains to be seen if the U.S. government will do enough to help them.