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OpinionEditorial

Don't spurn Hurricane Dorian refugees 

Hundreds of people who were displaced by Hurricane

Hundreds of people who were displaced by Hurricane Dorian gather at a port that was turned into a distribution and evacuation center in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, on Sept. 7. Credit: The Washington Post/Carolyn Van Houten

The Bahamas is still paralyzed by the force of Dorian, a Category 5 stunner. Homes were destroyed, and many are seeking refuge elsewhere. It’s going to be a steep climb to normalcy.

Yet President Donald Trump is doing the opposite of extending an open hand to our neighbors. His public support has been paltry, and it appears that his administration will not offer Bahamians temporary protected status, immigration relief that allows individuals to work here for a provisional period until conditions in their homeland improve. Bahamians can still travel to the United States with documentation.

The conditions that trigger TPS include environmental disasters like hurricanes. Honduras and Nicaragua were designated for TPS in the 1990s after Hurricane Mitch. 

The devastation of Dorian and the proximity of the Bahamas to the United States would suggest that TPS makes sense in this case. This status is likely to be brief while this economically strong nation rebuilds.

Unfortunately, Trump’s few words on the disaster expressed his concern about “bad people” and “gang members” getting in.

Vetting is important, but screening is not incompatible with a humanitarian effort.

TPS has been part of America at its best. The program is for people already in the United States who can’t safely return home, but the federal government has extended protections to people who fled atrocious conditions. Trump has been stymied by courts in his effort to end TPS for people from Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan and Nicaragua.

Every day and in every way, Trump sees political gains in making it harder for people to get to America, for temporary or permanent stays, unless they are working at his resorts. The anti-immigrant drip-drip is adding up, and it’s changing this country. — The editorial board

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