Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Supervising Attorney Paul Chavez, with the SPLC Immigrant Justice Project, issued the following statement on the urgent need for the United States to suspend visa requirements for people in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.
“At this very moment, thousands – if not tens of thousands of people – are trapped in the Bahamas on devastated islands. Before the situation grows more dire, we urge the United States government to suspend visa requirements immediately for those impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
“We hope the president will hear this call, including calls by Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike, especially those here in Florida. The U.S. must immediately lift these requirements so those seeking refuge, especially by ferry and boat, are able to leave.
“We can’t afford confusion when people’s lives are at stake. The administration and Congress need to speak with one voice making clear that refugees from Dorian are welcome without restriction or fear of reprisal.
“Without such relief, there is no doubt the humanitarian crisis, growing worse by the day, will cause much more unnecessary suffering and push the death toll higher. We can’t stop a storm, but we can suspend these restrictions to allow our Bahamian brothers and sisters to find safety in the United States.”
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