Things That Matter

The US Promised Entry To Bahamians Without Visas Following Hurricane Dorian Then Changed Their Mind

Hurricane Dorian landed in the Bahamas islands as a Category 5 storm with winds of 200 mph, leaving at least 44 people dead and 70,000 Bahamians homeless. Rescue workers are still searching for bodies and survivors, nearly a week after the storm finally departed the island. Thousands of survivors are still living in government buildings and churches with no access to water or power after their homes were leveled by the storm. For many Bahamians, there’s nowhere to go.

For the last few days, Florida officials have called on Trump to waive visa requirements for Hurricane Dorian survivors in the Bahamas. Still, the Baleària Caribbean ferry was forced to remove 100 Bahamians from its ship because they didn’t have U.S. visas, per U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) regulations.

CBP told Baleària that the ferry would have to detour to Nassau to get U.S. visas for the refugees before arriving in Florida.

Credit: @PortEverglades / Twitter

Instead, the ferry company forced more than 100 Bahamians off the ship, leaving them stranded on an island with nowhere else to go. Michael Silva, a spokesperson for CBP, blamed the ferry company. “It breaks my heart because it’s like when you raise somebody’s hopes and then you pop the balloon… That, in my opinion, is what Baleària did,” Silva told Newsweek. “It raised the expectations of these poor people who have been through an unimaginable situation with the hurricane…They raised their expectations only to then leave them terribly disappointed.”

Now, CBP is changing its story, saying they would have allowed the Bahamians to arrive at a U.S. port and arrange visas on site.

Credit: @CBPFlorida / Twitter

“We would have definitely worked with this transportation company or any other transportation company to…facilitate this process,” Silva told Newsweek. “CBP is not denying or discouraging evacuation efforts and we empathize with the plight of the Bahamian people.” “They were not ordered off the boat by any government entity,” another CBP official told reporter Brian Entin. “If those folks did stay on the boat and arrived, we would have processed them.” For all that Silva said on behalf of CBP, he could not offer a “blanket statement” on whether all Bahamians would be allowed entry to the U.S., making for a confusing process for both refugees and ferry companies.

More than 1,200 Hurricane Dorian survivors arrived in the Port of Palm Beach on Saturday alone.

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The Grand Celebration cruise ship conducted a rescue operation, completely free of charge to the refugees who climbed aboard. According to CBP, the company had coordinated with the U.S. government a few days in advance, which is what allowed CBP to ensure everyone would be “properly documented.” Officials told media outlets that additional personnel were sent to Miami to assist in processing the Bahamian refugees. According to reports, CBP claims to have organized with the government and non-profits to ensure that people were at the port to help with housing and medical needs of the people forced from their island after the horrific hurricane.

CBP continues to discredit the company because it charged a ferry fee.

Credit: @BrianEntin / Twitter

According to WSVN Miami reporter, Brian Entin, who was aboard the Baleària, “They say they were told it was ok to accept Bahamian evacuees with passport and copy of police record. They boarded the boat. Then when they sent manifest to US Customs and Border Patrol — they were told those without visas would not be accepted.”

Those Bahamians who have a police record and arrive in the U.S. will immediately be detained by ICE.

Credit: @OscopeLabs / Twitter

CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters that refugees will be allowed to stay in the U.S. for as long as the Bahamas remains unsafe for them to return to. He also added that, under existing immigration laws, Bahamians with criminal histories be entered into deportation proceedings, but that given the circumstances, they will be detained with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

President Trump told reporters that the Bahamas has “some very bad people,” and that CBP must “be very careful” about allowing Bahamians entry.

Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

For Trump, the most important thing in this disastrous situation is that “everybody needs totally proper documentation.” All this to say, ships performing rescue missions or operating, as usual, are still left unclear on CBP protocol moving forward.

READ: As Hurricane Dorian Kills Bahamians, Ann Coulter Thought It Was A Good Time To Make Jokes About The Storm

A New Investigation Uncovered Another 1500 Children Separated By Trump Zero Tolerance Policy

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A New Investigation Uncovered Another 1500 Children Separated By Trump Zero Tolerance Policy

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During two months in 2018, the Trump Administration inflicted the separation of undocumented families at the border who were seeking asylum or attempting to cross the southern country line. The policy was called “zero-tolerance,” and at the time of the announcement, former General Jeff Sessions firmly stated at the border that “If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple.” He also added, “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” That’s exactly what they did. When all was said in done, after the uproar of seeing crying children being taken away from their families and placed in cages, federal courts ordered the Trump Administration to end the policy. The government initially admitted that they had separated almost 3,000 kids from their parents. It turns out they were way, way off. 

A new report shows that the Trump Administration separated 1,556 more children on top of the 2,737 children they previously had admitted to releasing.

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On Oct. 24, after a federal judge ordered the government to release data about the children that were separated in 2018 in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) finally got the figures after six months. 

“The Trump administration admitted to a federal court that it ripped an additional 1,556 parents and children from each other under its illegal family separation policy,” the ACLU said in a statement. 

The court order came after the ACLU sued the government for information on the children after an earlier report in which the government admitted they didn’t know exactly how many children were separated, but it was probably “thousands.”

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In January, the Department of Health and Human Services and the inspector general said they couldn’t know for sure how many children were separated because they didn’t have proper records

“The total number and current status of all children separated from their parents or guardians by United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and referred to Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) care is unknown,” the report states. That report is what prompted the lawsuit from the ACLU demanding a thorough investigation to find those children. 

Lee Gelernt, lead attorney in the family separation lawsuit and deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, had this reaction to the final figures: “It is shocking that 1,556 more families — including babies and toddlers — join the thousands of others already torn apart by this inhumane and illegal policy. Families have suffered tremendously, and some may never recover. The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated.”

The ACLU has been diligently working hard on finding the children and also suing the government for the trauma they caused the separated families.

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The ACLU filed the class action lawsuit — Ms. L v. ICE — against the government for illegally separating families and instilling lifelong trauma on the victims. 

“The suffering and trauma inflicted on these little children and parents is horrific,” Gelernt said in a statement. “Tragically, it could take years for these families to heal. Some may never recover, but we are fighting to give them a chance.”

The “Zero-Tolerance” Policy began in April 2018 and was forced to end in June 2018. In just that short time, so much damage was caused on vulnerable people seeking asylum. 

While the policy was supposed to end in June of 2018, it was reported that families were still being separated long after that. A New York Times article said that at least 900 families were separated after June 2018.

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“The administration is still doing family separation under the guise that they are protecting children from their parents, even though the criminal history they are citing is either wrong or shockingly minor,” Gelernt told the New York Times in July. “This is just circumventing the court’s order.”

During a panel at a Forbes event, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was in charge during this period, said she had no regrets over making sure the “zero-tolerance” policy was being enforced because she was doing her job. The only reason she left her post was that she was saying “no” too much. 

“I don’t regret enforcing the law, because I took an oath to do that,” Nielsen said, according to CNN. She added that she was there to “enforce the law, not to separate families.”

READ: Government Officials Report That Reuniting Separated Families Will Take Two Years

Here’s How Disney Rewarded A Boy Who Gave Up His Disney Trip To Help Hurricane Evacuees

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Here’s How Disney Rewarded A Boy Who Gave Up His Disney Trip To Help Hurricane Evacuees

Disney Parks / YouTube

Jermaine Bell might be the best human to ever reside in Jacksonville, Florida. After 6-year-old Bell had spent the last year saving money for a birthday trip to Disney, he decided to give it all away. As the catastrophic Hurricane Dorian approached the east coast of Florida, millions of Floridians were evacuated. Some went south to Miami while many others drove north. While visiting his grandmother in South Carolina, and having felt the threat of Dorian on his own Florida home, he decided he wanted to do something for evacuees fleeing the South Carolina coast.

You know that saying, “No good deed goes unpunished”? Well, that doesn’t apply to Jermaine Bell.

Jermaine Bell emptied his savings to buy hundreds of hot dogs, chips, and water, so evacuees “can enjoy the ride to the place they’re going to stay at.”

Credit: Disney Parks / YouTube

Bell quickly made a couple of signs and posted them at either end of his street, to let passerby know that they likely had a very cute rest stop in sight. “The people that are traveling to go to other places, I wanted them to have some food to eat, so they can enjoy the ride to the place they’re going to stay at,” Bell told his local news station. “I wanted to be generous and live to give.” 

Bell served nearly 100 evacuees whose days were certainly brightened by his selfless, generous act.

Credit: Disney Parks / YouTube

When families would tell him that they were worried for their homes, Jermaine would begin praying that their homes would be protected. There’s no question that Bell touched those hundred evacuees lives, but he went on to touch many millions more. Once his good deed went viral, Good Morning America conducted an interview inside his own home on his birthday. He told them that he still wanted to go to Animal Kingdom some day and “see lots of lions and have a Lion King party.”

It was his birthday, and Bell forfeited his party for a good cause, with no clue that an entire Disney crew was waiting outside to make all his birthday wishes come true.

Credit: Disney Parks / YouTube

When Disney Parks heard the news, they must have coordinated with Good Morning America to make sure America could experience the satisfaction of seeing Bell’s good deed be rewarded. A representative from Disney knocked on Bell’s door once the interview was “over,” and told him they had a surprise for him in the driveway.

Bell was definitely surprised to see Mickey Mouse in his driveway.

Credit: Disney Parks / YouTube

His jaw remained dropped for at least twenty seconds. The whole time he was interviewing with Good Morning America, Disney staff were setting up a “magical moment” in his very own driveway. A dozen staff stood outside holding Lion King plushies and balloons to yell “Surprise!” In an adorable Disney Parks video, Bell tells us, “When the lady came out and she said come around the corner, when I saw everything, I was just super happy.”

“When Mickey came out, I was just really happy,” Bell gushed.

Credit: Disney Parks / YouTube

Then, the big announcement: Disney Parks was giving Bell an all-expense paid trip to Disney Resort later this month as a dual birthday and thank you gift for his generosity to Hurricane Dorian evacuees. “I’m really excited, because I wanted to go to Disney for a long time,” Bell said. “Never in a million years would we have imagined anything like this from him,” his mom, Lauren Creech told Disney Parks. “Coming up with an idea to help someone else. So this really does instill in him that when you do good, good comes back to you.” 

Now, Bell wants us all to remember to “be strong and if you do good things, you will be rewarded.”

Credit: Disney Parks / YouTube

To top off an exciting magical moment, the whole Disney crew, including Mickey Mouse, sang him a very special “Happy Birthday” song. Of course, the rest of America is still happy-weeping to know that there are still good people coming up in this world. Hope tweeted “While a grown a** man, “leader of the free world” was playing golf. Jermaine bell. SAY HIS NAME.” Twitter is emphatically naming Bell a hero. @_SJPeace_ tweeted, “HE IS A HERO. HIS NAME IS JERMAINE BELL. KNOW HIS NAME.”

There you have it. Having compassion for victims of natural disaster is well received by Americans and American corporations.

Watch the full surprise video below!

READ: The US Promised Entry To Bahamians Without Visas Following Hurricane Dorian Then Changed Their Mind