Hurricane Dorian was forcing many people to evacuate the Bahamas after the Category 5 storm’s powerful rains and winds of up to 200 miles per hour hit the island nation hard. But there were some new reports that President Donald Trump‘s immigration policies were prompting officials to turn away some evacuees from traveling to Florida to seek refuge.
Brian Entin, a reporter for Miami news outlet 7 News WSVN, tweeted videos showing some of the evacuees and the problems they were facing.
“Big problems on the ferry from Freeport to Florida — announcement just made that any Bahamian without a visa must now get off,” Entin tweeted Sunday evening. “This is not normal. Nornally (sic) Bahamians can travel to USA with passport and a printout of their police record. This is a mess.”
Another evacuee with an infant was also turned away.
The Sun Sentinal reported that nearly 1,000 evacuees lined up Friday in Freeport hoping “to return back to the U.S. with a cruise ship that had just arrived and was planning to leave for Palm Beach later that night with 1,500 precious seats.”
Bahamas Paradise, the company that owns the ship, said “it would evacuate Bahamian residents who had ‘proper documentation.’ On Friday, a spokeswoman for a public relations firm in Fort Lauderdale, working on behalf of the cruise line, said that would mean a valid visa and passport, but could also include a police report and a photo identification.”
Florida State Rep. Shevrin Jones, who has family in the Bahamas, defended the evacuees.
“There is no way that all those individuals can have those materials,” Jones said. “We should not make those documents the deal breaker on whether you can come stay with your family or not.”
He also wrote on Twitter, “The boat w/ Bahamians being turned away because they have no visas is why we must suspend the requirements for certain ppl, especially those who have families here. What did we send them back to? Nothing! Many have lost everything. This is a humanitarian issue!”
As of Friday, “the federal government had yet to comment on the status of whether Bahamian residents who wish to flee the islands will be allowed into the United States to stay with any family they may have,” according to the Sun Sentinal.
Obviously, if a country like Norway was having a humanitarian crisis, this administration would find a way to let them in.
Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Dorian.