TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers who have family members living in the Bahamas gathered at the state Capitol on Wednesday to discuss relief efforts after Hurricane Dorian caused massive damage in the island nation.
The lawmakers called for the federal government to ease visa requirements to help Bahamians enter the United States.
They also want state agencies to allow Bahamian children to enroll in Florida schools in the short term, provide medical assistance for elderly and medically needy residents and extend educational visas for college students.
“Bahamian people are not trying to come here to stay forever, but they are in a dire situation now,” Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “We need to extend that same opportunity. We don’t need the border patrol making it more difficult now than it was before the hurricane.”
Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said Bahamians are “resilient people. The Bahamian community are loving people. They are a community that love their country. All they want from us is a helping hand.”