Patterico's Pontifications

9/9/2019

President Trump: We Need To Be Very Careful About Which Bahamian Evacuees We Let into The U.S.

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:40 pm



[guest post by Dana]

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian the death toll in the Bahamas currently stands at 43, but is expected to rise. There are also an estimated 70,000 people now homeless on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands. Because of the magnitude of the disaster, and subsequent shortages of food, shelter, and fresh water, people on the islands are making every effort to leave as things are expected to get even worse:

Efforts are underway to move evacuees by the hundreds to safety, including on a cruise ship that arrived Saturday morning in Palm Beach, Florida.

Search and rescue personnel who arrived with cadaver dogs on the Abaco Islands brought body bags and coolers to store human remains, said Joy Jibrilu, director general of the country’s tourism and aviation ministry.

Workers also brought equipment to count the dead and to understand the scope of damage, Jibrilu said.

The smell of death lingered in the air in Marsh Harbour, CNN’s Gary Tuchman reported Friday, as he toured hard-hit areas there.

Tuchman accompanied U.S. Coast Guard and city of Miami paramedics as they conducted a grim search through rubble in Marsh Harbour Saturday. The crews found the body of a woman buried in the layers of rubble that now blanket the neighborhood.

Local firefighters told Tuchman they expect many more bodies will be found in the area.

Ravaged infrastructure has impeded search and recovery efforts, as the islands remain a mess of splintered buildings, torn-off roofs, snapped power poles and scattered vehicles.

However, residents fleeing the islands are facing complications when trying to enter the U.S. Earlier today, evacuees found themselves kicked off a ferry headed to Florida because their paperwork was allegedly not in order:

Crew members aboard the Balearia in Freeport, Grand Bahama, told 119 evacuees without valid US visas they would have to disembark because US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) warned “in a last-minute call” they would not be admitted to the US on arrival in Fort Lauderdale.

Under CBP rules, passengers lacking visas are legally admissible on humanitarian grounds as long as they also carry a police report confirming they have no criminal record. But those with such documentation were asked to get off the Balearia after the passenger manifest was submitted to the US federal agency on Sunday night, according to some of the crew, because they said the US would not accept them.

Others from the Bahamas have reportedly been allowed to travel to the U.S. with passports after undergoing a screening process that showed no proof of criminal record.

Customs and Border Protections attempted to clear up the confusion:

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters Monday that the developments were the result of “confusion,” and said the Trump administration would look to process anyone seeking entry into the U.S. from the Bahamas for humanitarian reasons on an expedited basis.

“You can imagine any type of natural disaster like this where you have this huge disaster, a lot of resources going on and responding, there’s going to be some confusion,” Morgan told reporters at the White House.

“We are not working and telling a cruise line that you cannot allow anyone without documents. That’s just not being done.”

“We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that’s going to come here, we’re going to process them,” Morgan continued, though he stressed that individuals will not be granted entry if they are deemed inadmissible, including in cases of criminal records.

Morgan later stressed that there is not a “formal grant of temporary protected status for individuals in the Bahamas impacted by the hurricane,” but that those discussions need to happen.

The acting director of Customs and Border Patrol in Port Everglades, Florida, said that had the evacuees remained on the ferry and been allowed to disembark in Florida, CBP would have processed them:

Stephen Silvestri, the acting director for CBP at Port Everglades, told a reporter from Miami news station WSVN who was onboard the ferry: “If those folks did stay on the boat and arrived we would have processed them, vetted them and worked within our laws and protocols and done what we had to do to facilitate them.”

“I think it was a business decision by Balearia to remove them. They were not ordered off the boat by any government entity.”

President Trump also weighed in on the issue today, noting that there were “dangerous” people on the islands that officials want to prevent from entering the U.S.:

“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation. Because look, the Bahamas has some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas who weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn at the White House.

Trump went on to suggest that gang members or drug dealers could be among those seeking refuge in the U.S. after the devastation from Dorian.

“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,” Trump continued.

The president claimed that “large sections” of the Bahamas were not hit by Dorian, and that the U.S. would seek to relocate Bahamians in need to those parts of the country.

Here is a link to organizations helping with recovery in the Bahamas. I haven’t vetted them myself, so do your homework if you’re interested in helping with monetary donations or non-perishable items.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

33 Responses to “President Trump: We Need To Be Very Careful About Which Bahamian Evacuees We Let into The U.S.”

  1. I think Trump is right to vet the evacuees,and weed out any criminals. However, what an absolute shame that a standard wasn’t already in place to do just that. This is confusing, and why is a ship company making the decision to turn back evacuees?

    Dana (fdf131)

  2. This is confusing, and why is a ship company making the decision to turn back evacuees?

    It’s probably the oldest immigration law. It also applies to airlines now. Ships are responsible for making sure that they only transport properly documented persons, admissible to the U.S. under U.S. law.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. This is not an unforseeable circumstance. Somewhere in the halls of government, there is a protocol for this. Maybe they should just dig it out and use that, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

    Nic (896fdf)

  4. When Al Bahama sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

    You have to watch those Al Bahamans, they might have started that whole rumor about Al Bahama being threatened by Hurricane Dorian just to make Trump look stupid and use it as a pretext to invade the US across its Eastern border. Maybe we should build a wall to keep them out. A big, beautiful sea wall stretching from….well, not coast-to-coast, but whatever the opposite of coast-to-coast would be. But big and beautiful, that’s for sure.

    Jerryskids (702a61)

  5. I hate it when I agree with Trump.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. For some context, wikipedia says the 2016 population of the Bahamas was 391,232. 70,000 people would be 17.89% of the country’s population, between 1/5 and 1/6 in fractional terms.

    This is a *huge* catastrophe from the perspective of the Bahamas.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  7. Dana, how do you vet refugees when 1/6 of the country is a refugee and the infrastructure to do background checks has been destroyed? *As a practical matter*, what has to happen?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  8. Honestly, aphrael, I don’t know. I would hope that the U.S. has some sort of contingency plan in place when these things occur. And if take the CBP official at his (albeit confusing) word, there seems to be some mechanism in place to be able to determine one’s background, given that he explicitly says entry will be denied to those “…deemed inadmissible, including in cases of criminal records.”

    Dana (fdf131)

  9. While that’s so, nk, the problem appears to have been more than that:

    Crew members aboard the Balearia in Freeport, Grand Bahama, told 119 evacuees without valid US visas they would have to disembark because US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) warned “in a last-minute call” they would not be admitted to the US on arrival in Fort Lauderdale.

    Under CBP rules, passengers lacking visas are legally admissible on humanitarian grounds as long as they also carry a police report confirming they have no criminal record. But those with such documentation were asked to get off the Balearia after the passenger manifest was submitted to the US federal agency on Sunday night, according to some of the crew, because they said the US would not accept them.

    Dana (fdf131)

  10. That is certainly a more specific and more informative answer to your question,

    This is is confusing, and why is a ship company making the decision to turn back evacuees?

    Dana, but it is not inconsistent with mine. The ship had no choice if CBP had disapproved them from the ship’s passenger manifest.

    I have my grandfather’s “Ellis Island papers”. They are the ship’s passenger manifest. It is more than a listing of his name and home address. It includes such things as his smallpox vaccination status, his destination in the United States (Chicago), whom will he be staying with (his brother), and how much money he had ($58.00). The difference between now and then is that now the manifest can be electronically transmitted to the port authorities in advance, but then the purser had to submit the paper one in person when the ship arrived.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. ONE: Nothing about this is hard: no visa, no passport, no entry.

    TWO: We know where “temporary refuge: goes. We admitted 59,000 Haitians in 2010 after an earthquake; In 2019, they’re STILL HERE. ”

    https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-04-10/family-split-between-us-and-haiti-dreads-looming-loss-legal-status

    https://www.vox.com/2017/11/20/16682924/haiti-tps-temporary-protected-status.

    Glad to see an administration refusing to credit Emma Lazarus’ bizarre idea that the US must admit everyone, and once “Temporarily here,” its forever.

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e)

  12. Dana, how do you vet refugees when 1/6 of the country is a refugee and the infrastructure to do background checks has been destroyed? *As a practical matter*, what has to happen?

    The destruction was centered on Freeport and Abaco, but apparently Nassau had little or no damage. And Nassau is the capital, so presumably the necessary records would be available there.

    The complicating factor is that Abaco [I think–it may actually have been Freeport] was home to a large population of illegal Haitian immigrants (that is, Haitians who were illegally present in the Bahamas) for whom the Bahamian government has no records.

    Kishnevi (3734a9)

  13. Yes, kishnevi, and that’s where the main shelter and processing center is too.

    Dana (fdf131)

  14. Here is good piece on the Haitians struggle in Nassau.

    Dana (fdf131)

  15. Dana@14
    Small world! I think one of the women named in that article is a sister of a lady I used to work with.

    Kishnevi (3734a9)

  16. Seriously??

    Dana (fdf131)

  17. Those Bahamians aren’t evacuees, they’re invaders.

    Paul Montagu (f59cb7)

  18. If they are American, they’re welcome. If they aren’t, why isn’t Britain extending their hand offering to help?

    I have a friend who was on Abaco with his daughter living there during the storm. The home is gone. Thankfully, they are both fine. Said the twisters are what destroyed everything. He helped treat people in the hospital once he got there. Storm surge was brutal and he was treated for pruning.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  19. @18 Because the Bahama islands are a 4000+ miles from England and 300+ miles from Florida and thus they’re our neighbor. But I get it. Not everyone thinks Christian teaching should inform public policy.

    Time123 (306531)

  20. Not everyone thinks Christian teaching should inform public policy.

    Oh, I dunno. I am of the opinion that the missionary should choose what’s for dinner, not the cannibal. What’s your opinion?

    nk (dbc370)

  21. 8. Aphrael(e0cdc9) — 9/9/2019 @ 5:53 pm

    As a practical matter*, what has to happen?

    The requirements have to be waived, or it won’t get done.

    Actally, I’m surprised that they are letting anyone in, but not too surprised that they have some impractical requirements.

    A police report??

    Is the Bahamaian government in any condition to issue them?

    How much time would it take?

    You defeat the whole pupose if you go through this bureaucracy.

    Defeating the purpose is nothing new for Homeland Security. It has done so for some time, both in the Obama Administration and the Trump administration, except that Trump campaigned on making things harder, regardless of sense. Since this is doe on the premise that it is our sovereign
    right to not admit aanyone, and that nobody has any right to immigrate to the U,S. it is not required to make sense.

    What am I talking about?

    The U.S. has a program for admitting as refugees people in Iraq and Afghanistan who worked wth U.S forces, often as interpreters. They get special authorization.

    But…

    The vetting process for making sure they are not terrorists in disguise has been impossible. Getting references from U.S. troops who were there doesn’t help. A few have been killed waiting.

    Now some common sense here:

    When they took evacuees from Katrina to Texas there were some criminala among them. It should be of no concern. Especially right at the start. Even criminals would be taken care of and wouldn’t begin to steal.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  22. 11. Harcourt Fenton Mudd (0c349e) — 9/9/2019 @ 7:55 pm

    We know where “temporary refuge: goes. We admitted 59,000 Haitians in 2010 after an earthquake; In 2019, they’re STILL HERE. … once “Temporarily here,” its forever

    That has historically been the case. T

    But that’s not the hangup here.

    Sammy Finkelman (8dcc71)

  23. Time123, yes, we’re closer, and yes, we should help, AND at the same time … the Bahamas are a Commonwealth country. The Commonwealth should be helping, too.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  24. https://www.newser.com/story/280390/hurricane-survivor-12-freed-from-migrant-detention.html

    Her’s the story: Kaytora Paul flew to Miami with her godmother on Sunday after being evacuated from hard-hit Abaco Island, where the roof of her family’s home had collapsed but because the godmother was not a biological relative sShe was sent to a center for unaccompanied migrant children

    Her aunt had gone to the airport to meet her but officials refused to release her to her custody of

    Then her mother casme to the United states to collect her, but now they said there wasaa process that could take months – and she was also given a Sept 26 deadline to leave the U.S.

    However after this got into the newspapers, she was released to the custody of her mother and aunt yeserday night. Officials explained that they were not aware she was a hurricane survivor (or at least there wss no form to fill out saying that) and they sped up the process.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  25. There are plenty of places in the Bahamas, many much closer to Abaco and Grand Bahama, that Bahamans can relocate to. There is also a considerable amount of private support that currently is and much more soon will be coming out of South Florida. Coordination and communication, as one should expect, are a big part of the problem.

    https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/09/06/Florida-boat-owners-aircraft-heading-to-Bahamas-with-relief-aid/1161567794052/

    I’d be willing to bet the Bahamas recover from this disaster much faster than Puerto Rico has from their hurricane Maria of a couple years ago.

    PTw (894877)

  26. 23, maybe Brexit is also an exit from the responsibilties of the Commonwealth; the emotional and monetary detachment and shock thereof may rival that experienced by the ex-Soviet bloc in the mid-1990s.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  27. jam the breaks, through your friends in haklyut and other places then complain,

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/09/13/david-cameron-says-second-brexit-referendum-may-necessary-stuck/

    narciso (d1f714)

  28. many much closer to Abaco and Grand Bahama, that Bahamans can relocate to

    Maybe you overestimate the distance between Florida and the Bahamas. It’s 73 miles between Freeport and Palm Beach, slightly more between Nassau or Abaco and Fort Lauderdale: the beacon of Nassau’s lighthouse can usually be seen from Fort Lauderdale’s beach even in daylight. Bahamians often do shopping for clothes, etc, in South Florida. Nassau by itself can’t handle all the people left homeless on Abaco, and the damage to Freeport shuts off the second biggest city in the Bahamas.

    Kishnevi (ab2b70)

  29. They usually operate that lighthouse in daylight, do they? Interesting. And by “slightly more” you mean like double, yes?

    Testy (ad27e2)

  30. Sorry, that was me. PTw. Still had my Testy workaround ID on this device

    PTw (ad27e2)

  31. Waitaminutewaitaminutewaitaminute…My bad. Something I didn’t consider. Are you a flat earth believer? Because if you are, then the silly idea that there’s a limiting horizon for how far you can see a lighthouse in daylight (usually) would not apply. My bad. Your reality.

    Also, population of Abaco is c. 17K. Nassau about 250K. Not saying that Nassau could absorb all those people, but ALL don’t have to leave, nor do ALL have to go to Nassau as relief is being made available in many ways. Either way, the idea that the only way to help Bahamas refugees is to accept them into our country with no restrictions and no questions asked is rather weak. Yes?

    PTw (ad27e2)

  32. The damage is pretty extensive from my churchs first relief flight last week, they were checking out abaco this week, think tsunami but in a smaller landmass.

    Narciso (7658f4)

  33. So Kishnevi, I ran your “can see Bahama lighthouse from Ft. Lauderdale in daylight “ story past some Ft. Lauderdale people and they want to know if you have any of that square grouper left. Seriously, where did you get this idea? I’m real curious. Did you read it somewhere or did you experience it yourself?

    PTw (ad27e2)

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