U.S Under Secretary of State David Hale said yesterday the U.S. government sympathizes with The Bahamas as it grapples with irregular migration.
When The Nassau Guardian asked if the U.S. supports the Bahamian government’s decision to deport undocumented migrants following Hurricane Dorian, Hale replied, “Well, the United States and the Trump administration, of course, is focused as well and so we sympathize with any country that is dealing with the consequences of irregular migration.
“So, we know that this is a concern here. It’s important that whatever is done is in accordance with international norms, and I think that I would put a premium on good cooperation and coordination between the two governments.
“In fact, I will be going to Port-au-Prince tomorrow and I will describe what I learned when I was here in The Bahamas and encourage that kind of support work together.”
Hale’s comments came during an official visit to The Bahamas yesterday.
During the trip, he met with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, who is acting as minister of foreign affairs, as well as disaster response authorities and USAID implementing partners.
According to the State Department’s Office of the Spokesperson, Hale discussed U.S. support for Dorian recovery efforts and the U.S. commitment to ongoing bilateral cooperation.
“As a component of our support, I’ve just come out of a meeting with the very hardworking women who are implementing our assistance,” Hale told reporters.
“America has provided these implementing partners over $34 million via USAID to help meet the acute humanitarian needs throughout the country. In their line of work that they’re doing to assist efforts related to shelter, healthcare, logistics, water and sanitation on Grand Bahama, Abaco and on New Providence.
“Most of these partners will continue their work in the areas most affected by the storm well into 2020. As The Bahamas moves into the reconstruction phase, we are committed to help galvanize the immense generosity of the U.S. private sector and its donors as well as the expertise of U.S. companies.”
Dorian ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, impacting nearly 30,000 people and killing at least 70.
Thousands of Bahamians fled to the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the storm. As of November 18, more than 300 evacuees were still living in Florida.
Yesterday, Hale said the U.S. government is focused on working with the Bahamian government “to do all that we can to rehabilitate and reconstruct The Bahamas – the home of the Bahamian people so that they can live here and restore their lives with dignity and restore their prosperity”.
He added that the Trump administration is still committed to confirming a U.S. ambassador to The Bahamas.
“I am not able at this time to offer a name, that’s the prerogative of the president of the United States,” Hale said.
“When a nomination is made, he’ll be making it.”
During the press conference, Hale also warned The Bahamas in its dealings with China.
“…We encourage our partners at all times to review the financing terms with Chinese companies thoroughly to ensure that all deals and contracts – like the case of The Bahamas – in fact serve the interests and needs of the Bahamian people,” he said.
“Transparency and accountability are key principles in that regard.”