Two women cry after arriving at the Port of Palm Beach on the cruise ship Grand Celebration Sept. 7, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The ship arrived with hundreds of evacuees impacted by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.Photo: Saul Martinez (Getty)
Looks like Donald Trump’s fears of “very bad people” when it comes to Bahamians devastated by Hurricane Dorian may have killed any hope that the U.S. would do the right thing offer temporary protected status to people who’ve lost so much in the storm.
According to NBC News, citing “an administration official,” the U.S. will not offer such humanitarian relief to Bahamians displaced by the hurricane.
An administration official speaking to CNN said the reasons were logistical: the number of people who would be eligible for TPS relief, the time it would take to provide the help; stuff like that.
While no one with federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department would go on the record with the news, it likely was foreshadowed earlier this week. That’s when Trump seemed to be, uhm, conflicted about sheltering the people living just some 300 miles from Florida’s coast.
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On Monday, after the nation’s Customs and Border Protections chief made assurances that Bahamians fleeing Dorian’s destruction could find sanctuary in the U.S. regardless of “travel documents,” Trump turned that notion on its head:
“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there.
“I don’t want to allow people that 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’re going to be very, very strong on that.”
As Root writer Jay Connor noted, the differences were stark between Trump’s knee-jerk characterizations of Bahamians versus his take on, say, white supremacists rallying in West Virginia (“fine people”).
Now comes the news, as NBC News reports, that while Bahamians will still be allowed to come to the U.S. — as long as they have the right travel documents, of course — they will have to rely for who knows how long on the kindness of others. No work permits for them, as would be allowed under TPS protections.