Bahamas evacuees were stranded when President Donald Trump’s administration turned away around 150 evacuees from Hurricane Dorian.
A humanitarian cruise ship carrying around 1,500 evacuees was en route to Palm Beach, Florida when CBP had the boat announce over the loudspeaker that those without visas wouldn’t be allowed to enter the US and must disembark.
Hurricane Dorian’s Massive Impact
Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a monster Category 5 hurricane last week, causing untold devastation and killing at least 45 people. The official death toll is expected to rise dramatically as officials continue to scan and survey the northern islands in the Bahamas. Thousands of people lost their homes, and hundreds are still missing.
In light of this catastrophic impact, the evacuees on their way to the US were simply looking to escape the storm’s damage. Before boarding the humanitarian cruise liner, they had been informed that their Bahamian passport and a clean police record would be sufficient to enter the country.
CBP’s Official Statement
“CBP was notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with US and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas,” read a statement released by the agency Sunday. “All persons must possess valid identity and travel documents.”
Adding to the frustration of the evacuees, CBP’s website states that Bahamas residents need only their passport and a clean police record if they are flying into the US. However, it seems unclear what documents would be required to enter the country by boat. From an outside perspective, this could come off as selective enforcement and even outright cruelty.
White House Lack of Response
At least, that was the opinion of Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. “This is the height of cruelty — denying help to those who need it most.” There has been no official response from the White House regarding this situation, though it is unlikely that the famously anti-immigration Trump Administration will be amenable to the refugees.
A few days ago, Florida lawmakers Rick Scott and Marco Rubio had urged the President to suspend or waive visa requirements for citizens of Bahama.
Search and rescue operations continue in the Bahamas as officials there survey the unprecedented damage. Some estimates claim the damage on the islands could total billions of dollars in cleanup and rebuilding.