Trump claims without evidence those fleeing the Bahamas are ‘very bad people’
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:
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.
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.