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Dozens of Bahamian evacuees were ordered off a ferry bringing them to the United States because they didn’t have visas, CNN reports.
A Balearia ferry boat was set to bring dozens of Bahamas residents who were displaced by Hurricane Dorian to the United States, traveling from Freeport to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. However, just before the boat left on Sunday night the operator announced over the loudspeaker that anyone traveling without a visa must get off the boat, causing as many as 130 people to leave. The incident was captured on video by a reporter with CNN affiliate WSVN.
“Another announcement just made ordering any Bahamian without a U.S. visa to disembark ferry — not allowed to evacuate,” reporter Brian Entin tweeted on Sunday. “They were told before boarding it was ok with Bahamian passport and clean polce [sic] record. Something has now changed.”
According to Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael Silva, the ferry operator failed to properly coordinate the evacuation with the American Embassy, the Bahamian government and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“We’re there to facilitate and accommodate that process in an orderly fashion, according to regulation and protocol. However, Balearia did not do that,” Silva told CNN. “We asked them to coordinate ahead of time. They did not that do that.”
CBP’s acting port director at Port Everglades, Stephen Silvestri, noted that no American officials were involved in the announcement, and told CNN that had the evacuees arrived in the U.S., “we would have processed them, we would have done vetting and, you know, we would have done everything we needed to do within the US laws and regulations to determine their admissibility and process them accordingly.”
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