GOP Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday sought to discourage Bahamians from fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Dorian and coming to his state, telling them to stay put and seek relief in their country instead, reports Newsweek.
“If you just need the relief, that’s not what Florida’s set up for,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Dania Beach, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“Florida is helping to send resources to the Bahamas so the relief can be administered there,” he said.
DeSantis’ comments came as the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami warns that Tropical Storm Humberto could form near the Bahamas in the next 48 hours, issuing tropical storm warnings for the same islands left in ruins by the killer Category 5 Hurricane Dorian just days earlier.
Here are the 11 AM Friday, September 13 Key Messages for Potential Tropical Cyclone #Nine. The disturbance is forecast to become a tropical depression or a tropical storm later today. pic.twitter.com/WFvU7zFaxI
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 13, 2019
Tens of thousands of Bahamians have been displaced by Hurricane Dorian, while the death toll has climbed to 50. That number is expected to rise as officials continue to try to locate at least 1,300 people who remain missing.
DeSantis also suggested that he supports the Trump administration’s decision to deny Temporary Protected Status to those fleeing the Bahamas. TPS would allow Bahamians to live and work legally in the U.S. until their country has recovered sufficiently from the storm.
TPS is “only for people who are already here,” DeSantis said.
“So, I think when people are saying, ‘Oh, let the people who came get it.’ That’s not what it’s for,” the Florida governor said. “TPS is if you’re in the United States, something happens in your home country, then you can apply for it. So, I don’t even think it’s applicable, and I think the Bahamian government has not asked for it. And so I just don’t think it would even apply.”
17 Democratic U.S. senators, including five 2020 presidential candidates, introduced legislation seeking to grant TPS to “eligible Bahamian citizens” for at least 18 months.
Last Friday, a bipartisan coalition of Florida members of Congress also asked the Trump administration to consider granting Bahamians TPS.
Trump on Monday claimed that the Bahamas is full of “very bad gang members” as he warned that the United States needs to be “careful” in allowing Bahamas evacuees to come to the states.
Trump suggested to reporters that dangerous individuals could sneak into the U.S. with those seeking refuge in the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s near-total devastation.
“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be” in the Bahamas, Trump told reporters on the South Lawn at the White House.
“We have to be very careful. Everyone needs totally proper documentation. I don’t want to allow people who weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people,” Trump said.
“Look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” he continued.
Without providing evidence to back his claim, he said the island nation had some “very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very very bad drug dealers”.