WASHINGTON, United States, Tuesday September 10, 2019 – Hurricane or not, Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian will not be given any special treatment to enter the United States because, as President Donald Trump says, there are “bad people” there – like gang members and drug dealers – that he has to ensure don’t get in his country.

He made his government’s position clear while speaking to reporters outside the White House yesterday, a week after the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamian islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, and left at least 50 people dead so far, with the death toll increasing daily.

Almost 5,000 residents have been evacuated from the hurricane-hit islands to New Providence, where more than 70 per cent of the Bahamian population lives. Some Bahamians have been trying to get into the US, and a few days ago, several of them were ordered off a cruise vessel heading to Florida, because they did not have US visas.

“Everyone needs total, proper documentation because, look, The Bahamas has some tremendous problems with people going to The Bahamas [who] weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said yesterday. “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, so we are going to be very, very strong on that.”

“Large sections, believe it or not, of The Bahamas were not hit, and what we’re doing is bringing the people to those sections of The Bahamas that have not been hit. We’ve done a lot of the USAID, we’ve done a lot of work with our Coast Guard, with our FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] people who have been phenomenal…so, we’ll see what happens,” he added.

However, following the incident with Bahamians being ordered off the ship that was headed to Florida, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said nearly 1,500 evacuees who had already arrived at the Port of Palm Beach, Florida, were processed “without incident”.

Subsequently, Acting Commissioner of the CBP, Mark Morgan said the US would allow Bahamians, whose “life is in jeopardy”, entry to the United States “whether you have travel documents or not”.

“We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here. We will process them expeditiously,” he said, adding that evacuees who are “deemed to be inadmissible,” such as criminals or individuals who were denied entry to the US previously, would not be allowed entry. “We’re going to process them like we normally would.”

Meantime, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in The Bahamas said yesterday that there have been no new arrangements made between The Bahamas and any other jurisdiction to facilitate relaxed entry of Bahamians.

Spokesperson Carl Smith said Hurricane Dorian survivors seeking to travel to the US or Canada from the impacted islands would need to have all the usual and standard documentation to gain entry.

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