TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian should attempt to seek temporary housing in other parts of their country before attempting to travel to Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday, drawing a sharp rebuke from the state Democratic leaders.
- RELATED: Cruise Ship Brings Over 1,100 Bahamian Evacuees to Florida
- Get more Dorian coverage
Here are five things you should know about DeSantis’ comments:
1) What exactly did the governor say?
During an appearance with Florida Power and Light executives in West Palm Beach Tuesday, DeSantis said the U.S. and Bahamian governments were enacting policies "to not facilitate any special migration" by Bahamians whose homes were destroyed by the hurricane.
Instead of seeking relief in the United States, the governor said affected islanders can take advantage of the tons of supplies being delivered to Grand Bahama and Abaco.
As for housing, he noted most of the Bahamian island chain was unaffected by Dorian and can accept displaced residents.
2) How are Democrats responding?
In a statement shortly after the governor's remarks, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo wrote that "Bahamian evacuees are not seeking 'special migration', they are searching for refuge."
She added, "Now is not the time to turn away people in need. Now is the time for action!"
3) Why is there an apparent partisan divide over displaced Bahamians?
DeSantis is a confidante of President Trump, whose consistent hardline stance on immigration has extended to the post-hurricane challenges now being faced by thousands of Bahamians.
Speaking to reporters Monday, the president said he was concerned that allowing Bahamians without passports or visas to enter the country would facilitate the entry of "some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers."
Democrats, meanwhile, believe the storm-stricken Bahamians represent a humanitarian crisis that must be met with open arms by the island nation's close neighbor, the United States.
4) Are displaced Bahamians eligible for refugee status?
No. Because they're not seeking political asylum, they don't qualify as refugees and are not entitled to the benefits that come with that designation.
5) What about granting Temporary Protected Status?
The Trump Administration says they have no plans to extend temporary protected status to hurricane-displaced Bahamians.