On Sept. 1, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas. Ten days later the death toll is near 100, and literally thousands of people are still missing. Thankfully, and through an outpouring of compassion from diverse folks and places, relief efforts are underway and some help is being received.
Reports from the islands are that almost 75,000 persons ‘lost all’ of their homes and possessions. Understandably, many victims of Dorian have been forced to flee the area because of the massive devastation. Many have attempted to flee to the U.S. Donald J. Trump, the sitting president of what is arguably the most prosperous country in the world, has publicly stated that “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.” The President’s comments came on the heels of Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan saying it would be “appropriate” to extend Temporary Protective Status to victims of Hurricane Dorian. “I think it would be appropriate to have that circumstance. History shows we’ve done that before.” He added that if it’s a “lengthy time” before residents of the Bahamas can get back on their feet; he expected the discussion to happen. Instead of allowing Bahamians into this country — which Trump said is “also recovering from the hurricane” — Trump suggested those struggling in devastated areas of the Bahamas could go to the “large sections” of their country that were not hit. “We have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump said.
Undoubtedly you’ve seen news coverage of this devastation and you know of the horror inflicted on these victims. Imagine your family being uprooted like this due to a natural disaster and with almost nothing but the clothes on your backs you seek shelter and ‘the inn-keeper asks you for your birth certificate, your driver’s license, or your marriage license, or your social security card, or worse yet tells you there’s no room in the inn.’ This, in essence, is what our president, Donald J. Trump has told victims fleeing from the Bahamas. Flip the script please. It takes no guessing to know what Trump’s response would be if Dorian had hit, say Norway, or Finland. All of us know what his answer would be. Lady Liberty, standing proudly in NY Harbor beckons with these words, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.” Do these words have meaning? I say they do. It matters not whether or not you voted for Trump, it matters not whether or not you’re one of his supporters or not. What matters is turning a blind eye to the victims of this disaster is plain ole wrong. The time has come, in fact is long overdue, for all Americans, for all Alabamians to call this president out on this, and similar matters, and demand humanitarian treatment, including granting TPS to these victims. Remember, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent.