With no action from the Trump administration, Alanna Quillen with WPTV in West Palm Beach, FL, reports “lives have been put on hold” after Trump denied the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Bahamians in the U.S. who may face deportation back to the hurricane ravaged nation. Stanton Forbes, a Bahamian now calling South Florida his temporary home, says that for him and his mother, there’s nothing left to go back to – Dorian destroyed it all. Bahamians should not be used as pawns in this administration’s anti-immigrant schemes. They deserve hope, refuge and Temporary Protected Status.
The article is excerpted below and available online here.
Countless Bahamians are now calling South Florida their temporary home after Hurricane Dorian destroyed their own homes in the Bahamas.
An immigration status called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is meant to protect people in their situation. It was granted for Haitians fleeing the earthquake in 2010 and for Venezuelans escaping the humanitarian crisis.
However, President Donald Trump’s administration denied TPS for the Bahamas because of the statutory obstacles in place, the time it would take to provide relief and the number of those who would be eligible, according to officials.
The move has put the lives of Bahamian families like Stanton Forbes and his mother, Tashina Jones, on hold.
Just two and a half weeks ago, they sat in their attic bracing for death.
“In that moment, the water kept getting higher,” Forbes said. “We wondered, is the roof going to fall down on us or are we going to survive this?”
They waited in that attic for two days, watching Hurricane Dorian’s flood waters destroy their Grand Bahama home on the east side of the island. Viral videos tweeted out by Forbes show the ceiling washed away and the family looking down 10 feet of raging waters closing in on them.
“It’s really a miracle that we’re alive today,” said Forbes.
… His family survived and after two weeks of assessing the damage and getting affairs in order, Forbes and his mother made it aboard the Grand Celebration Cruise ship, which was docked in Freeport for a humanitarian mission . One Wednesday, the ship transported 300 families back to safety in West Palm Beach.
They reunited with Forbes’ uncle but like so many other families, they wonder what’s next.
“There’s really nothing for them to go back to,” said Nadine Heitz, an immigration attorney in Lake Worth Beach .
Without TPS, Bahamians can only enter with visitor visas, which only last six months. The visa also won’t allow them to work.
With still no electricity and running water to most of the effected zones, families believe it could take one to two years for Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands to recover from the storm.
“It’s just not enough time to wait out the time period needed to repair their homes,” she said. “They’re going to need a lot of help to get back on their feet and be able to live there.”
With no home to go back to and other family members left behind in the devastation, Forbes is desperately searching for options.
“We want to be legal, we want to respect the institution and the government — but we also want to be in a position to help our families back home who couldn’t come here,” he said.
… Forbes just hopes his family and so many other Bahamians don’t run out of time.
“It’s only a matter of using your pen to sign off and you give hope to people like us,” he said.