On Sept. 1, Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the Abaco Islands as a Catagory 5 hurricane, and according to records, tied it with the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane as the strongest storm to make landfall in the Bahamas.
The storm also wreaked havoc on the neighboring island of Grand Bahama, causing an estimated $7 billion worth of damage according to latest reports by NPR.
As a result, thousands of island residents made their way to the Freeport Harbour, trying to board any boat or ferry to get them off of the island temporarily.
Brian Entin, a reporter for Channel 7 out of South Florida tweeted a thread that was equal parts gut-wrenching and infuriating.
In 240 character segments, Entin told the story of how a ferry bound for Ft. Lauderdale filled with refugees had prepared to leave, sent their manifest to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and suddenly chaos ensued.
Normally, Bahamian citizens can travel between the islands and the United States without a visa, only requiring a printout of their police record and their passport.
According to Entin, the CBP told the company who ran the ferry, Baleria, that passengers without visas would need to disembark and would be denied entry to the U.S.
To complicate matters, a cruise ship had just dropped off 1500 refugees in West Palm Beach on Saturday, Sept. 7 with no documentation required due to the extenuating circumstances.
When Entin contacted the CBP to get an official statement, they blamed the rejection of refugees on a business decision by Baleria, rather than an egregious error on behalf of the United States.
This is cruel and heinous to ask people who lost their homes, their livelihoods and possibly family members to apply for visas and or dig up documentation while there is no power or functioning infrastructure on the island.
As Florida representative Shervin Jones told NPR, these people are not staying in the United States for an extended period of time.
They are looking to get supplies and get back to their homes as soon as possible.
However, as we have seen with this administration time and time again: the cruelty is the point.
We currently have a president who has absolutely no compassion for anyone that doesn’t bow down before his every whim and desire.
He has yet again proven that he is racist, a man without a soul or conviction.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, the death toll is at 44 and rising as officials continue to search through the wreckage.
One of my closest friends, a former Army paratrooper from the Bahamas said it best,
“Let’s be real. Donald Trump doesn’t care about what’s happened to us because we are black. If we were white, there would be no need for papers.”
We claim to be the country of: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” but in the Trump presidency, we have proven that poem is far from the true sentiment of America.
Instead, in the midst of worsening storms that are proven to be linked to climate change, we as a country turn our backs once again on those who need it the most.
This is why we must keep talking about this, the president, his agenda of white nationalism and cruelty because none of this should be the norm.
The chaos around this administration has cost lives at the southern border, a humanitarian crisis still in motion, and will probably cost lives in the Bahamas because a man in Washington cares more about looking tough to his constituency than doing the right thing.
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