A majority of the Florida delegation in the U.S. House are calling on President Donald Trump to expedite, waive or suspend certain visa requirements for citizens of the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian who are seeking shelter with relatives in the U.S.
After U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. sent a letter to Trump on the matter last week, on Friday, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., was able to round up most members of the Florida delegation in the House to sign a similar letter.
Besides Mast, other signers included Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Matt Gaetz, Francis Rooney, John Rutherford and Michael Waltz.
The letter reads as follows:
In the aftermath of the catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which battered the Bahamas for more than two days with high winds, heavy rain, and life-threatening storm surges, we respectfully urge your administration to expedite, waive, or suspend certain visa requirements for citizens of the Bahamas affected by the storm who are seeking shelter with relatives in the United States.
The United States and the Bahamas share a strong bilateral relationship with historically close economic ties and strong cooperation on reducing crime and mitigating migration issues. With the closest island less than 50 miles off the coast of Florida, there are approximately 20,000 Bahamians living in South Florida. This devastating hurricane has left so many without shelter, food, and clean water. As the Commonwealth of the Bahamas begins relief efforts, the United States government should help ensure that those who were left with nothing can easily seek shelter with their families in the United States. With the death toll continuing to rise, Floridians stand ready to assist our ally in the wake of this disaster.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and we look forward to working with your administration to assist the people of the Bahamas in the aftermath of this devastating hurricane.