Pragmatism Is Needed With Bahamian Refugees

The outpouring of support in South Florida for Bahamas relief has been remarkable. Words can’t do justice what we’ve witnessed in the northern Bahamian islands. Some of us have friends or even family directly impacted. Most of us have fond memories at destinations that aren’t currently recognizable. The humanitarian effort is also nearly as overwhelming as the recovery effort appears to be for the islands. 

As part of being good stewards to our neighbors, we should be doing what we can to help. That doesn’t mean that we should be reckless in the process. To date, over 2,000 Bahamian refugees have been brought to South Florida. Many additional thousands may soon be on the way. President Trump has stated that we need to ensure we have documentation to account for the people being granted refuge in Florida. That bad people could end up being brought over here as well. He’s right. And it’s not just the concern of outsiders on the islands. Unfortunately, for years, the criminal element has been extensive in the northern Bahamas. So much so that the US State Department has had a travel warning for Americans visiting the islands. 

The Warning state: Crime: The Department of State rates the criminal threat level in New Providence Island as critical. Criminal activity on the outlying family islands does occur, but to a much lesser degree than on New Providence or Grand Bahama.

Armed robbery and sexual assault are major criminal threats facing U.S. citizens in New Providence. We have received multiple reports of tourists being robbed at gunpoint or knife point in downtown and tourist areas of Nassau, including during the day. We have also received reports of sexual assaults in tourist areas. 

If you are operating on your own in boats or planes, be alert to the possibility of encountering similar craft operated by smugglers. U.S. citizen residents in the outer islands have occasionally reported being threatened by local drug smugglers and human smugglers in an attempt to coerce them into smuggling on their behalf.

These islands were rated as a “critical” threat level to Americans prior to Dorian. The first responsibility our president and the federal government has is our protection. It would be dereliction of duty if President Trump wasn’t advocating for the assurance that we weren’t importing dangerous criminals in South Florida. There’s a difference between humanitarian relief efforts and recklessness. The President’s pragmatism is warranted. Those who advocate for undocumented refugees to be relocated into South Florida are reckless.


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