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World‘I’m watching my daughter cry’: Bahamas hurricane survivors are kicked off ferry over U.S. visa demands

20:15  09 september  2019
20:15  09 september  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Tourists scatter as Hurricane Dorian hurls toward Bahamas Tourists scrambled to leave the Bahamas on Friday as Hurricane Dorian approached its northwestern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, eager to take off before the international airport was to shut down at 10 p.m. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in a statement at 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday (0030 GMT Saturday) that Dorian had strengthened into an "extremely dangerous" category 4 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h).

Trump speaks out after Bahamas hurricane survivors were kicked off ferry over U . S . visa “It’ s hurtful because I ’ m watching my daughter cry , but it is what it is .” The incident, which U . S Under existing U . S . policy, Bahamians can enter the United States without a visa by providing a passport

Hundreds of Hurricane Dorian survivors crowded into a ferry anchored in Freeport, Bahamas , on But after the announcement demanding visas , a long line of refugees slowly filed off the boat. "The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line coordinated their evacuation mission with U . S . and Bahamian

Hundreds of Hurricane Dorian survivors crowded into a ferry anchored in Freeport, Bahamas, on Sunday evening, after days on the sweltering islands with limited food, water and power. Just 2½ hours across the ocean, safety and relief waited in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Then, an announcement blared from the boat’s intercom speakers.

‘I’m watching my daughter cry’: Bahamas hurricane survivors are kicked off ferry over U.S. visa demands© Loren Elliott/Reuters A man searches for belongings amongst debris in a destroyed neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas, September 8, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

“Please, all passengers that don’t have a U.S. visa, please proceed to disembark,” a crew member said in a video captured on board.

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Hundreds of Hurricane Dorian survivors crowded into a ferry anchored in Freeport, Bahamas , on But after the announcement demanding visas , a long line of refugees slowly filed off the boat. "The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line coordinated their evacuation mission with U . S . and Bahamian

But when more than 100 were kicked off a boat headed to South Florida, confusion reigned about the visa rules for People without visas on the boat were kicked off by the boat company. Washington Post, ‘ I ’ m watching my daughter cry ’: Bahamas hurricane survivors are kicked off ferry over U . S

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Since Dorian devastated the islands earlier this month, killing at least 44 people, hundreds of Bahamian refugees have reportedly come to the United States after going through a screening process with only a passport and proof of no criminal record. The more than 100 refugees forced to disembark Sunday night were baffled about why they were turned away.

“At the last minute like this, it’s kind of disappointing,” Renard Oliver, who held his infant daughter, told Brian Entin, a reporter for Miami TV station WSVN. “It’s hurtful because I’m watching my daughter cry, but it is what it is.”

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More than 100 refugees forced to disembark Sunday night were baffled at to why they had been turned away.

People boarded a ferry in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas , last week. Some Bahamians trying to reach Florida were kicked off a ferry on Sunday night after an announcement was made that passengers had to have a visa for the United States to make the trip.Credit Marco Bello/Reuters.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, however, says no rules have changed and laid the blame on the ferry operator, identified by local reporters as Balearia Caribbean, for not properly coordinating with government officials. Balearia Caribbean did not immediately return a request for comment.

“CBP was notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas,” the agency said in a statement shared with The Washington Post late on Sunday.

A CBP official in Florida told WSVN that it was a “business decision” by Balearia to remove the refugees without visas.

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More than 100 Hurricane Dorian survivors were kicked off a rescue ferry for not having a US visa , but officials say A ferry crew member can be heard announcing that "all passengers that don't have a US visa , please proceed to "It' s hurtful because I ' m watching my daughter cry , but it is what it is ."

Trending. About 100 Hurricane Dorian Evacuees From The Bahamas Were Kicked Off A Ferry Headed A US-bound ferry evacuating hundreds of Hurricane Dorian survivors from Grand Bahama announced that only Bahamians with US "It’ s hurtful, because I ’ m watching my daughters cry ."

“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,” a CBP spokesman said. “They were not ordered off the boat by any U.S. government entity.”

On Saturday, nearly 1,500 refugees traveled to the United States on another cruise ship, reportedly without requiring visas. Entin reported that crew members on the Sunday ferry were told that the same rules were in effect before being rebuffed by CBP.

The refugees’ plight comes after bipartisan calls to waive all visa requirements for Bahamas survivors. On Wednesday, Sens. Marco Rubio (R) and Sen. Rick Scott (R) of Florida wrote an open letter to President Trump urging him to allow in refugees with relatives in the United States. Eighteen other Florida lawmakers made a similar appeal.

“Incoming images and media reports indicate that thousands of homes have been destroyed and the basic infrastructure of many communities simply no longer exists,” the senators wrote. “Perhaps one of the most basic yet meaningful steps our government can take immediately is to ensure that those who have lost everything, including family members in some instances, are provided the opportunity for shelter and reunification with family in the United States.”

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Under current policy Bahamians are allowed to bypass the visa process if they can provide a passport and proof of “It’ s hurtful because I ’ m watching my daughter cry , but it is what it is .” “As hundreds of thousands of Bahamians seek refuge or start to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian, we cannot have

Dozens of Hurricane Dorian survivors were forced to leave a ferry headed to the United States Another announcement just made ordering any Bahamian without a US visa to disembark ferry (AP Foto/Meg Kinnard). A U . S . Coast Guard helicopter flies over a house destroyed by Hurricane Dorian

On Monday, Scott urged CBP officials and the Bahamian government to clarify the current visa rules.

“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,” Scott said in a statement. Scott noted that he and Rubio “continue to urge President Trump to waive some visa requirements for those in the Bahamas that have family in the United States. But until that happens, there needs to be clarity on the current rules.”

Scott also encouraged CBP “to work with the Bahamian government to set up a temporary site at their ports of entry. Professionals should be on site to help the many Bahamians trying to leave destruction.”

Just hours before the confusion on Sunday’s ferry, CBP’s acting commissioner emphasized that U.S. authorities would be expecting “proper documentation” from those fleeing the hurricane’s destruction.

“Those evacuating from the Bahamas who are U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and those with proper documentation to enter the U.S. are being processed at U.S. Ports of Entry,” CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan wrote on Twitter. “No visa document requirements have changed.”

Thousands have fled the islands after Dorian tore away roofs, flooded entire neighborhoods and left tens of thousands of people homeless. Most have gone to Florida, which has close historical ties to the Bahamas.

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But many survivors seeking respite in Freeport on Sunday did not find it. Hundreds struggled to buy tickets on ferries and flights. Eventually, workers at the Freeport Harbour locked the terminal doors after all of the seats on the Sunday evening ferry had been sold. Many people continued to wait outside.

People waited in line for hours to buy tickets and board the evening Balearia Caribbean ferry. Their homes had been flooded, power cut off, water contaminated. The boat to Fort Lauderdale promised to carry them to family members and friends waiting to provide support.

But after the announcement demanding visas, a long line of refugees slowly filed off the boat.

“This is terrible,” one woman who stayed on the ferry told WSVN as the ferry left the harbor.

Under existing U.S. policy, Bahamians can bypass the visa process by providing a passport and proof of no criminal record and going through a pre-screening conducted by CBP in Freeport and Nassau. On Saturday, a cruise ship called the Grand Celebration took nearly 1,500 refugees to Palm Beach, Fla., without requiring passengers to show U.S. visas, according to media reports.

As anger and confusion mounted Sunday, CBP cited the Grand Celebration’s arrival as proof that the United States isn’t blocking refugees from the island.

“CBP continues to process the arrivals of passengers evacuating from the Bahamas according to established policy and procedures — as demonstrated by the nearly 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.

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In that statement, CBP emphasized that Grand Celebration worked with officials in both nations before the voyage.

“The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line coordinated their evacuation mission with U.S. and Bahamian government officials before departing The Bahamas, and coordinated with CBP prior to the arrival of the C/S Grand Celebration,” the federal agency said. “All of the evacuees possessed valid travel documents.”

CBP said Sunday that the U.S. Embassy in Nassau is open for emergency visa appointments. The agency also requested that all refugees present themselves at a U.S. port of entry so that their admission can be reported to Bahamian authorities searching for missing residents in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

In the Bahamas, tens of thousands are still without homes, electricity or clean water. Mark Green, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told The Post that it looked as though the islands had been “hit by a nuclear bomb.” Bahamian officials warned that the death toll on the islands is likely to rise significantly as authorities continue to survey the destruction.

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As evacuations continue, hundreds of Bahamians were told to get off a ferry headed to the US.
Hurricane Dorian may have long since left the Bahamas, but the islands have only begun to grapple with the grim aftermath. © Gonzalo Gaudenzi/AP People wait in Marsh Harbour Port to be evacuated to Nassau, in Abaco, Bahamas, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. The evacuation is slow and there is frustration for some who said they had nowhere to go after the Hurricane Dorian splintered whole neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi) Less than a week since the Category 5 storm hit, 45 people have been confirmed dead -- and that number is expected to rise drastically, officials say.

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