ABC News, September 10, 2019
The acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied on Monday that people fleeing the devastation in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian have been turned away from the United States by his agency because they did not have proper documentation.
“We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here,” acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said during a news conference at the White House. “If your life is in jeopardy and you’re in the Bahamas and you want to get to the United States, you’re going to be allowed to come to the United States, whether you have travel documents or not.”
But soon after Morgan’s news conference, his boss, President Donald Trump, seemed to contradict him by saying that anyone coming to the United States from the Bahamas will not be allowed into the country without proper documentation.
“We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because, look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before embarking on a trip to North Carolina, where he planned to tour areas hard hit by Dorian.
“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 and some very bad gang members, and some very, very bad drug dealers. So, we’re going to be very strong on that.”
“Everyone who arrived to the United States from another country must present themselves to a CBP officer for inspection at an official CBP Port of Entry,” the statement reads. “All persons must possess a valid identity and travel documents.”
During his news conference, Morgan said CBP officials processed about 1,400 people in a couple of hours over the weekend after they were evacuated to Palm Beach, Florida, on a cruise ship.
“But keep in mind, there are still people that are inadmissible to this country, there are still people coming here who still could have criminal convictions,” he said. “We are going to process them and handle them normally to make sure this country is safe.”
He said the Trump administration is also considering granting Temporary Protected Status to some evacuees of the Bahamas.