Reports of Bahamians being turned away from an evacuation boat to Fort Lauderdale over confusion about entry requirements for Bahamians after Hurricane Dorian shows that we must create a visa waiver and grant temporary protected status to the people of the Bahamas while the country rebuilds.
On September 9, CNN reported that evacuees from the Bahamas boarding a boat to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were told they could not gain entry into the United States without a visa. Possibly as many as 130 people, including families with children got off the boat. The incident was reported just one day after the editorial board of the Miami Herald joined bipartisan calls to waive visa requirements for Bahamians.
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, released the following statement following the report:
“The people of the Bahamas have just faced one of the most devastating hurricanes in recent memory. People are without homes, supplies are scarce, and they need help. Those who have lost their documents in the storm, or cannot receive a response from an overwhelmed Bahamian government shouldn’t have to endure another tragedy of not being able to get to safety.
We need to waive visa requirements and grant temporary protected status immediately to Bahamian evacuees so they can get to safety and to reduce the strain on recovery efforts underway.”