130 Bahamians Seeking Refuge in the U.S. Were Forced Off Ship

On Sept

Photo: Unsplash/@katiemoum

Photo: Unsplash/@katiemoum

On Sept. 1 Hurricane Dorian hit landfall in the Bahamas and caused immense devastation that officials are still assessing. As of now, officials confirmed the death of at least 43 people, and there will definitely be more. Survivors of Hurricane Dorian are desperately trying to leave the Bahamas because the island is uninhabitable. CNN reports that 70,000 Bahamians are homeless. On Friday, more than 1400 people fled the island on a ship to Florida and were picked up by friends and family. On Sunday more Bahamians attempted to flee in search for refuge in the U.S., but at least 130 were turned away.

According to CNN, the trip on Friday in which 1400 people were admitted into the U.S., the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said all of them had the proper documentation. They report that 539 are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and the other 857 are Bahamians and 39 evacuees are of other nationalities. On Sunday, however,  the CBP said that “anyone traveling to the United States without a visa must disembark.” This new rule meant that about 130 people were forced to get off the ship.

The problematic issue with this statement is that Bahamians normally don’t need a visa to enter the U.S. The CBP informs to read the small print. If Bahamians are traveling to the U.S. by plane, they do not need a visa, but if they’re traveling by ship then they are required to have a visa. They also said people with a police record wouldn’t be able to leave the island. Bahamians on the ship were left stunned on Sunday as they watched families and children forced to get off.
“I think this is terrible,” one woman aboard the ship said. “They should all be allowed to enter the U.S.”
“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 U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas,” CBP said in a statement Sunday, according to CNN. “Everyone who arrives to the United States from another country must present themselves to a CBP officer for inspection at an official CBP Port of Entry. All person must possess valid identity and travel documents. CBP has a Preclearance operation in Nassau. CBP is committed to carrying out our duties with professionalism and efficiency — facilitating lawful international travel and trade.”
This inhumane treatment of Bahamians is extremely reminiscent of how Puerto Ricans were treated by the U.S. after Hurricane Maria. The U.S., under the Trump Administration, is very used to turning their back on people in their time of need.

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