Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is leading a bipartisan letter signed by members of the Florida delegation urging President Donald Trump to waive or suspend certain visa requirements for Bahamians seeking to join relatives in the United States. The lawmakers also expressed support for Temporary Protected Status for the Bahamas should its government request it. Signees so far include Representatives Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Mario Diaz-Balart, Lois Frankel, Matt Gaetz, Alcee L. Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie N. Murphy, Donna E. Shalala, Darren Soto, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
In light of the unprecedented devastation Hurricane Dorian has wrought on the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, we write to respectfully request that your administration provide additional assistance by waiving or suspending certain visa requirements to facilitate the reunification of Bahamians with U.S. relatives. Additionally, if requested by the Bahamian government, we would support the designation of Temporary Protected Status for the Bahamas.
For two days, beginning on September 1, the Category 5 hurricane pummeled northern Bahamas with sustained winds of up to 185 miles per hour, torrential rain, and a storm surge that reached as high as 23 feet. As a result, entire communities have been leveled. More than 13,000 homes on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama were either severely damaged or destroyed. Moreover, 70,000 people are currently without food and clean water. We are deeply concerned about the unfolding humanitarian crisis and believe that immigration relief measures are much needed to support the Bahamian people on their long and arduous journey to rebuild their homeland and lives.
Providing immigration relief measures to Bahamians would further the strong, enduring relationship between our nations and honor the immeasurable contributions Americans of Bahamian descent have made to our home state of Florida and the United States. In fact, Florida is home to the nation’s largest Bahamian community. Bahamian culture and values are deeply woven into the fabric of our state. Waiving or suspending certain visa requirements, along with other immigration relief measures, would allow Bahamians to quickly reunite with their relatives and join forces to further support their homeland’s recovery.
We thank you for your consideration of this request and look forward to your response.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is a fourth-term Congresswoman from Florida representing parts of Northern Miami-Dade and Southeast Broward counties. A former state legislator and school principal, she is the founder of the 5000 Role Models for Excellence Project, a mentoring program for young males at risk of dropping out of school. Congresswoman Wilson also founded and chairs the Florida Ports Caucus, a bipartisan taskforce that coordinates federal action in support of Florida’s harbors and waterways. The Florida lawmaker sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee, and chairs the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.