Bahamas evacuees told to get off ferry headed to the U.S.

Cheryl Sanders
September 10, 2019

"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".

Brian Entin, an investigative reporter for CNN affiliate WSNV, was aboard the Balearia ferry on Sunday when an announcement was made notifying passengers that they would have to get off the ship if they didn't have the proper documents.

Earlier Monday, Trump's acting Customs and Border Protection head Mark Morgan said that the U.S.is still vetting and processing Bahamians attempting to come into the US who lack documentation.

"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", he added, referring specifically to gang members and drug dealers who fled to the islands.

"Another announcement just made ordering any Bahamian without a US visa to disembark ferry - not allowed to evacuate", reporter Brian Entin tweeted on Sunday.

"Please, all passengers that don't have a US visa, please proceed to disembark", a crew member said in a video captured on board. "Everybody needs totally proper documentation", Trump said before he flew to North Carolina to inspect hurricane damage and speak at a political rally.


Florida state Rep. Shevrin Jones, of Bahamian ancestry, had asked Rubio and Scott for help asking the Trump administration to waive visa requirements.

It was not immediately clear what the required documents are for Bahamians traveling by boat. "That, in my opinion, is what Balearia did", CBP Florida spokesman Michael Silva told Newsweek, deflecting blame for the chaos to the ferry operator.

"CBP continues to process the arrivals of passengers evacuating from the Bahamas according to established policy and procedures - as demonstrated by the almost 1,500 Hurricane Dorian survivors who arrived at the Port of Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a cruise ship on Saturday and were processed without incident", a CBP spokesman said in a statement.

On Sunday, over 100 of the displaced were instructed to disembark a rescue ferry bound for Florida because they didn't possess US visas.

On Saturday, almost 1,500 refugees traveled to the USA on another cruise ship reportedly without requiring visas.

Around 130 Bahamian evacuees boarded the ferry in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday night to head to shelter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after withstanding several days of limited food, water and power on the island.


Amid the disaster, Trump insisted that "large sections of the Bahamas were not hit".

"This is a humanitarian mission", Morgan said. "We should not make those documents the deal breaker on whether you can come stay with your family or not". The entire extended family together earned about $800 a month, not enough to buy insurance, said Synobia Reckley, 25, who traveled from the island's main city, Freeport, to help her family.

The National Emergency Management Agency said 2,500 people had been evacuated from the islands since the hurricane hit, majority from Abaco.

"If they didn't have IDs, they would have to go to a very lengthy process", the spokesperson said, adding that it was the decision of the boat company to remove some of the passengers.

Homes lay in ruins one week after Hurricane Dorian hit The Mudd neighborhood, in the Marsh Harbor area of Abaco, Bahamas.

"Already we've received two cruise ships - thousands of folks that we have processed", Morgan stated, referencing at least one ship carrying 1,400 people that was processed in a matter of hours. But administration officials had tried to spin their complicated requirements as routine vetting - until Trump said the quiet part out loud.


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