While talking to reporters outside of the White House on Monday, Donald Trump said that people trying to escape from the storm-stricken Bahamas could be “very bad people” and urged caution. This comes on the heels of the news that a reported 130 Bahamian residents were turned away when trying to flee the devastation on Sunday night.
“We have to be very careful,” Trump told reporters. “Everyone needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas who weren’t supposed to be there.”
Trump has not provided any evidence that any of his statements regarding the Bahamas are true or accurate. That includes his assertion that the country has an issue with drugs and gangs.
“I don’t want to allow people who 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,” he said.
Both Custom & Border Protection and Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla) expressed confusion over the process for Bahamians to enter the United States. “It’s important Customs and Border Protection and the Bahamian government work together to clarify the current rules regarding visas in the Bahamas,” Scott said in a statement obtained by the Miami Herald. “As hundreds of thousands of Bahamians seek refuge or start to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, we cannot have the kind of confusion that occurred last night in Freeport.”
According to WSVN7 News, the ferry crew that was supposed to carry the residents who were ultimately turned away, said they were told by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the last minute that passengers without visas could not travel to the U.S. without that documentation.
To the contrary, CBP says that the orders did not come from them. “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,” said CBP Acting Port Direction Stephen Silvestri. “I think it was a business decision by Balearia to remove them. They were not ordered off the boat by any government entity.”
Statements being made by the CBP are in contrast to what Trump told reporters on Monday night. To date, the process for admitting Bahamian residents by sea has not been clarified on the CBP website. Currently, the death toll for Dorian stands at at least 50, according to multiple reports and over 70,000 people have lost their homes.