Multiple news outlets, including NBC and CBS, reported today that the current death toll from Hurricane Dorian is 50, with 1,300 people still unaccounted for amidst devastating infrastructural damage.
According to NBC, the current number of refugees who have come to the United States from the Bahamas is approximately 1,500. Initially, because it was a humanitarian emergency, they weren’t required to show visas, but the rules suddenly changed.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced it will not grant temporary protected status to the displaced Bahamians, denying them access to safe housing and jobs.
President Trump said, “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.”
Trump has used this same racist rhetoric to target Central American refugees, as well as justify his administration’s torture of asylum seekers in border concentration camps and the refusal of aid to surrounding nations devastated by wars that are direct result of American intervention gone wrong.
This same bigotry was evident when his proudly touted “America First” policymaking stopped short of helping Hurricane Maria-devastated Puerto Rico. Instead of providing aid to the U.S. territory, Trump blamed the devastation caused by the hurricane not on the storm itself, but on the island, using its poor economic status as a justification for refusing aid.
When Puerto Rico needed Washington’s help more than ever, he removed FEMA first responders from the island.
The cognitive dissonance between Trump’s emphasis on the United States as the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and the apparent lack of resources to help its own citizens points to the glaring lack of empathy for the most vulnerable of this nation and the world – a mindset heartily encouraged by this administration.
While Trump and his staffers waste away millions in taxpayer dollars on gratuitous personal expenses and exorbitant travel costs – all the while lamenting the confines of arbitrary budgets and being racist to boot – people are suffering right in our backyards.
The political climate has caused many to become desensitized to people in need – especially when they’re located in the global south, far enough away from us to wave them off once the news cycle ends, and ignore them until the next major crisis occurs.
Calls to action have fallen on deaf ears as Democrats and Republicans alike equate simply helping people to just another bullet point on a sleazy political agenda.
But caring about human lives should not be partisan by any stretch of the imagination.
By intentionally neglecting to provide sanctuary for those affected by Hurricane Dorian, the Trump administration is consciously discriminating against refugees due to their geographic location and low stance on the political totem pole.
Everyone has been affected. As citizens of the same earth, everyone will continue to be affected if we do not take a stance now.