President Donald Trump hit a nerve Monday after arguing the U.S. should be “very careful” about allowing Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian into the country, warning there could be some “very bad people” among the thousands of evacuees.
In an interview with reporters outside the White House, Trump emphasized that “everybody needs totally proper documentation” if they want to enter the U.S.
The president’s crass comments come just days after 119 Bahamas evacuees were left stranded on the storm-ravaged island after being booted from a rescue boat to Florida because they didn’t have U.S. visas — a mistake U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have blamed on the ferry company.
“The Bahamas has some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said. “I don’t want to allow people who weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come to the United States, including some very bad people, and some very bad gang members, and some very very bad drug dealers.”
Even before Trump’s Monday afternoon remarks undercutting the CBP’s claim that the ferry operator was at fault for stranding the evacuees, the company released a statement saying it had acted on U.S. government orders.
“We boarded these passengers with the understanding that they could travel to the United States without visas, only to later having been [be] advised that in order to travel to Ft. Lauderdale, they required prior in-person authorization from the immigration authorities in Nassau,” Balearia Caribbean said in a statement sent to WSVN.
Since taking office in 2016, the president has been tough on immigration and has sought to quell the inflow of immigrants — both documented and undocumented — particularly those looking to cross at the U.S.-Mexico border. He sparked outrage upon announcing his candidacy back in 2015, during which he made racist remarks about Mexicans, who he said would bring in “drugs” and “crime” and were “rapists.”
Hurricane Dorian, which struck the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm last week, has left an estimated 45 people dead and displaced thousands of others. Several relief efforts have been launched in the U.S. and abroad to help those working to rebuild after the monster storm.
Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, called the recent move to deny Bahamas evacuees entry to America “disgraceful.”
“These are people whose homes and livelihoods have been totally destroyed, who have lost family members,” Prakash told Common Dreams, Inc. “But instead of welcoming them with open arms and offering support, we’re sending them back to an island with little shelter, no food, and no access to basic necessities.”
Trump’s remarks also sparked criticism on social media.
“Trump: not okay with letting “very bad people” into the US from the Bahamas,” one user tweeted. “Also Trump: *sets a meeting with the Taliban in the US*”
“Call it like it is – if the evacuees from the Bahamas were white (or from Alabama), there would have been no obstacles put in place by Trump and (Stephen) Miller,” lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted, adding #Disgraceful.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes also decried the president’s coldness toward “people who are trying to get off storm ravaged islands to go to safety.”
Meanwhile, in 2017, Trump referred to attendees of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia as “very fine people.”
Watch more in the video below.
Trump defends prohibiting some people from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas from entering the United States because he doesn't want "very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very very bad drug dealers" here. pic.twitter.com/BL7q93xtfD
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 9, 2019