After reports came out that the Trump administration did not plan to grant Bahamians temporary protected status in the U.S. in the wake of deadly Hurricane Dorian, Democratic senators announced legislation seeking to do just that.
On Thursday, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey introduced a bill to provide temporary protected status (TPS) to Bahamians, a status generally given to refugees of war or disaster that allows them to live and work in the U.S. until it is safe to return to their country.
More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers co-sponsored the bill, including 2020 presidential contenders Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who were set to face off later Thursday in a debate.
“The Trump Administration’s inability to provide TPS to Bahamians is as predictable as it is unfortunate,” Menendez said in a news release. “Given the President’s unwillingness to act, Senate Democrats are introducing legislation that would provide Bahamian nationals in the United States with urgently needed humanitarian protection.”
Menendez’s team said the bill was announced “as a direct response” to the reports that the Trump administration would not grant TPS to Bahamians after the devastating hurricane.
HuffPost reached out to the White House but did not immediately receive a response.
After the hurricane tore through parts of the Bahamas with Category 5 winds earlier this month, at least 50 people have been reported dead, thousands of homes were destroyed, tens of thousands were left homeless, and about 2,500 people have been reported missing.
Democratic candidates for president insisted on the nation’s moral responsibility to help those fleeing a natural disaster, with Booker saying “that is who we are as Americans,” in the release. Harris and Warren called Trump’s reported refusal to grant TPS “heartless.”
On Monday, Trump urged caution in admitting people into the U.S. from the Bahamas, stating without evidence that there could be “very bad people,” including gang members and drug dealers, among the Bahamian refugees.
“As a Caribbean-American myself, my heart hurts for those whose lives have changed as they know it back home in the Caribbean,” Clarke said.