Emma Newman staff writer
Hurricane Dorian was supposed to hit Florida. As devastating as that would have been, the effects are even more catastrophic now that it hit the less-developed islands of the Bahamas.
This hurricane is the slowest-moving and strongest to ever hit the islands, and it has already left a death toll of 50+ individuals and resulted in the homelessness of tens of thousands of Bahamians, according to The Guardian. The horrors of this hurricane are as clear as day, and yet Trump does not seem to recognize this in his recent statement. After an incident where people without a visa were forced to exit a ferry traveling from the Bahamas to the US, Trump said that, to enter the US, all Bahamians fleeing from their homes “need totally proper documentation” instead of following a policy of rationality and empathy.
This new statement followed Trump’s usual habit of being unwelcoming to those outside of our country. However, this announcement particularly stood out because it is unreasonable and makes the United States seem heartless.
When Trump released his statement, he had flawed reasoning behind his unwelcoming attitude. His logic was that some of the Bahamians are “very bad people and…very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.” However, Trump provided no basis for these claims. In fact, this year’s State Department’s Annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report actually commented on the significant steps the Bahamas has taken in its fight against the drug trade.
Even if some of the people in the Bahamas were criminals, these individuals were not able to get into our country before the hurricane hit and US policy changes. In the past, Bahamians only needed a passport and a print of their respective police records to enter the US. Now, instead of loosening this policy to accommodate those displaced because of the hurricane, Trump is tightening regulations for no apparent reason. Now, Trump wants Bahamian refugees to have visas, which can sometimes take up to two months to get. This simply doesn’t work for the Bahamians who need help now.
The most upsetting thing about the statement, though, is that it paints our entire country as cruel and unkind to the rest of the world. The absolute disregard the president seems to have for the thousands of helpless Bahamians makes the rest of us look bad, especially considering the fact that the same hurricane that could have wrecked much of Florida. When other countries view us that way, they won’t have a motivation to give us help if necessary.
If we have a natural disaster one day other countries may not want to help our recovery process. If California has an earthquake and we need aid from other countries, who will want to assist us if they know we wouldn’t do the same for them? When we follow this policy of “every man for themselves”, we may alienate other countries who could be vital to our country if we are ever in need.
This isn’t just about us, though. These people, even if they weren’t born in our country, deserve a chance. They deserve safety, and most importantly, they deserve to live in conditions that aren’t life-threatening.
If we want the thousands affected by Hurricane Dorian and our country’s reputation to be safe, something has to change. As civilians, we don’t have to stay silent in the wake of this injustice.
We should donate to organizations like Bahamastrong and National Association of the Bahamas and help provide the Bahamians affected with basic aid necessary for their recovery. We should post on social media and make enough noise that others will join the fight for Bahamian refuge in the US. Most importantly, we should contact the Senators and Congressmen of this great nation because if enough of us do, they might listen, and if enough of them listen, we may just be able to get the attention of the man we call our President. We have to try because if nothing else, the Bahamians deserve that much.