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President Trump on Monday sounded the alarm over refugees fleeing Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in the Bahamas and arriving in the U.S. without documentation, warning specifically about “gang members” and “drug dealers” who could take advantage of the disaster.
“Everybody needs totally proper documentation because look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren’t supposed to be there,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “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. So we are going to be very, very strong in that.”
The president’s statements appear to contradict remarks from acting Customs and Border Protection director Mark Morgan, who said earlier Monday that the U.S. would allow some Bahamians to enter without documentation given their desperate circumstances.
“If your life is in jeopardy and you’re in the Bahamas and you want to get to the United States, you’re going to be allowed to come to the United States, whether you have travel documents or not,” Morgan told reporters.
“But keep in mind, there are still people that are inadmissible to this country,” he added.
The Category 5 storm, which ravaged the Bahamas for close to 48 hours over Labor Day weekend, has left at least 45 dead and 70,000 displaced from their homes.
About 130 hurricane refugees in the Bahamas were kicked off a Florida-bound ferry Sunday evening after the ferry operator said only those with U.S. visas would be permitted to make the journey, an unfortunate situation Morgan said was the result of confusion.
“You can imagine in any type of natural disaster like this where you have this huge disaster, a lot of resources going on and responding, there’s going to be some confusion,” the CBP director said.