Senators support protected status for Bahamas

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A man rides his bike amid the wreckage of Hurricane Dorian in Marsh Harbor, Abaco Island, Bahamas, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. The Bahamian health ministry said helicopters and boats are on the way to help people in affected areas, though officials warned of delays because of severe flooding and limited access. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCIA) — Following reports the Trump Administration will refuse to grant temporary protections to Bahamians affected by Hurricane Dorian, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and 15 of his Senate Democratic colleagues in introducing The Bahamas Temporary Protected Status of 2019.

The legislation designates The Bahamas for Temporary Protected Status for 18 months and provides humanitarian protection for eligible Bahamian citizens who are unable to return to their country due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.

More than a week after the catastrophic hurricane made landfall in The Bahamas, there have been at least 50 reported deaths, an estimated 2,500 people are missing, and more than 60,000 are without food and shelter. Large swaths of the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama have been destroyed and are nearly uninhabitable.

“Everyone has seen the heartbreaking photos and videos from the Bahamas – homes turned into rubble; no access to food or clean water; families that have lost everything. This is precisely the kind of situation where previous Administrations have granted Temporary Protected Status,” said Durbin. “The Trump Administration’s decision to deny TPS to the Bahamas is heartless, but not surprising. America is better than this, and Congress has a responsibility to step up to provide this humanitarian protection to the Bahamian people in their time of greatest need.”

Along with Durbin and Menendez, the bill was also cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Established by the U.S. Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS is a temporary, renewable program providing relief from deportation and access to a work permit for foreign nationals from certain countries who are unable to safely return to their home country due to natural disasters, armed conflicts or other extraordinary conditions.

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