Hundreds of evacuees fleeing the devastation from Hurricane Dorian were asked to exit a ferry destined for Fort Lauderdale. In a video posted Sunday on Twitter by Miami-based Fox affiliate WSVN reporter Brian Entin, an announcement is heard aboard the ship, telling refugees fleeing Dorian’s devastation that additional paperwork was required to enter the United States.
According to Entin’s post, Bahamians were originally told that all they would need was a passport and a clean police record, but the ship was stopped before leaving hurricane-ravaged Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island, some 110 miles east of Miami.
“We boarded these passengers with the understanding that they could travel to the United States without visas,” said Baleria Caribbean, the ferry company that was tasked with transport. “Only to later having been advised that in order to travel to Ft. Lauderdale they required prior in-person authorization from the immigration authorities in Nassau.”
According to a report by CNN, Bahamian evacuees were allowed to enter the United States without visas, something they backed up by stating that Custom and Border Protection (CBP) websites state that visas are not required for Bahamian residents flying to the U.S. from the Bahamas.
Entin, in a follow-up tweet after interviewing CBP agents, said that they “[would] have accepted and processed the Bahamians” going on to blame Baleria Caribbean for the snafu.
President Trump, in a statement delivered Sept. 9 referred to the incident saying:
“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.”
This added despite there being no link to Trump and the decision by either the CBP or Baleria.
According to a report by Reuters, there is very little data to support Trump’s claim, their report stating that in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s recent assessment of drug trafficking, the Bahamas was only mentioned once in the 150-page briefing. Furthermore, the U.S. DEA report was more concerned with marijuania flow to the Caribbean from the U.S.
This occurs at the tail-end of several insensitive snafus by the president regarding Hurricane Dorian and those affected by it.
On Aug. 27, before Dorian had reached the Caribbean, Trump made an insensitive Tweet regarding U.S. territory Puerto Rico.
“Wow!” said Trump.“Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for “anywhere.”
Not only was the tweet deemed insensitive by many, as Puerto Rico suffered nearly 3,000 deaths as a result of 2018’s Hurricane Maria, but it was empirically incorrect. According to an NBC article, the real figure was only $49 billion, with only $1.5 billion going to reconstruction.
Then earlier this month Trump incorrectly tweeted that Alabama would be among the states affected by Dorian, which was then immediately corrected by the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, after their office had been flooded with phone calls from concerned citizens.
Days later he produced a map that appeared to be doctored with a marker, adding into the “cone of uncertainty,” a small sliver of Alabama. This despite the chaos the original tweet had caused and it being a violation of federal law to falsely report or alter reports given by the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center.
The Category 5 storm hit less than a week ago and has been making its way up the east coast, affecting coastal areas of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The death toll has reached 50 in the Bahamas but according to a report by CNN, that number could increase exponentially.
Hundreds of residents are still missing and nearly 70,000 others have been left homeless.