Trump: Bahamians Need 'Proper Documentation'; CBP Says Documents Not Necessary, But 'We Still Need to Vet Them'

Belongings litter the ground in the "Mudd" neighborhood of Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, on September 7, 2019, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

( - President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that the United States has to be "very careful" in admitting hurricane refugees from the Bahamas into this country.

"Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the -- look the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren't supposed to be there. 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," Trump said.


"Let me just explain," the president continued. "Large sections, believe it or not, of the Bahamas were not hit. And what we're doing is bringing the people to those sections of the Bahamas that have not been hit. We have done a lot of the USAID. We have done a lot of work with our Coast Guard, with our FEMA people, who have been phenomenal. I mean they have been phenomenal. We'll see what happens," he said.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan told a news conference on Monday that Bahamian refugees may come here without travel documents, but they will be vetted for criminal actions and other national security reasons:

"We will accept anyone on humanitarian reasons that needs to come here. We are going to process them expeditedly. Again, though, if they are deemed to be inadmissible, for example, if they have a long criminal history and the have been denied to the United States previously, we're not going to allow the person into the--the country to roam freely. We are going to process them like we normally would."

Morgan said he has authorized the deployment of "an enormous amount of resources" to southern Florida to process the hurricane refugees seeking admission on humanitarian grounds.

Already we have received two cruise ships, thousands of folks that we have processed, flights are coming in constantly. We have deployed additional folks out to even the small airports. We are reaching out to the aviation companies and corporations to coordinate. We are coordinated with the cruise ships every single day to make sure we can do that effectively and in a timely process."

But I want to be very clear though because I've already seen some false narratives out there is that doesn't mean that we do this with a blind eye. We still have to balance the humanitarian need and assistance of those that need it versus the safety of this country. So we still go through the process. But we are exhibiting that process, putting more resources down there.

We are waiving the normal fees. I could go on and on with what we are doing to try to expedite the process but keep in mind there are still people that are inadmissible to this country, there are still people coming here that could have criminal convictions. We are going to process them and handle them normally to make sure this country is safe.

Morgan said CBP already has processed both citizens and non-citizens, as well as those with travel document and those without travel documents.

"And we are trying to do that in the most expeditious way we can to support the humanitarian mission...But we're still going to do our job, we still need to process you, we still need to vet them to make sure that we are not letting dangerous people in taking advantage of this.

"I'll give you another example," Morgan continued. "We've had some individuals that brought children with them from the Bahamas who lost their mom and dad. So, we need to make sure that were they -- was there any nefarious activity involved or were they just doing it out of humanitarian reasons to protect the kid? And so far, that's what we've seen. But we still have to vet that out."

President Trump told reporters he is not concerned about China's relief efforts in the Bahamas:

"No, I am not. Let people go in and help. The Bahamas got hit like no--nothing that I've ever seen. I've never seen a hurricane--it was like a massive tornado more than a hurricane. It got hit like nothing I have seen. Anybody wants to help, that's okay with me. I think it's a good thing."


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