Bahamians usually need a visa to visit the U.S., but the requirement can be bypassed if they present a passport and a recent police certificate showing they don’t have a criminal record. A lot of people didn’t have such documents, or lost them in the wind and water of the Category 5 storm. Obtaining them now is next to impossible since the Bahamian government is literally swamped with bigger problems.
A ferry company transferring Bahamas residents told passengers U.S. Customs and Border Protection told it to remove everyone who didn’t have a visa.
The whole fiasco might have been avoided if visa requirements had been waived. This isn’t the Mariel boatlift of 1980, where Fidel Castro put thousands of Cuban prisoners and mental patients on boats and sent them toward Key West. The risk of an unsavory character penetrating the U.S. border is minor compared to the totality of the Category 5 carnage.
Mark Green, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said the northern Bahamas look “almost as though a nuclear bomb was dropped.”
America has no legal obligation to provide aid and shelter, but we have a moral duty to help one of our closest neighbors.
The U.S. should be open to providing help for all of Dorian’s refugees until the situation is stable enough for them to return home.
— The Orlando Sentinel