September 12, 2019

Harris, Democratic Senators Introduce Bill to Invoke Temporary Protected Status Protections for Bahamians

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following reports that the Trump Administration will refuse to grant temporary protections to Bahamians affected by Hurricane Dorian, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Thursday joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and 15 of their colleagues in introducing the Bahamas Temporary Protected Status of 2019. The legislation designates the Bahamas for Temporary Protected Status for 18 months and provides humanitarian protection for eligible Bahamian citizens who are unable to return to their country due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian on September 1, 2019. 

More than a week after the catastrophic hurricane made landfall in The Bahamas, there have been at least 50 reported deaths, an estimated 2,500 people are missing, and more than 60,000 are without food and shelter.  Large swaths of the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama have been destroyed and are nearly uninhabitable.

“Our arms should always be open to receive individuals fleeing disaster, and that includes our neighbors in the Bahamas who are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian,” said Senator Harris. “Granting Bahamians temporary protected status will fulfill our nation’s moral responsibility to protect those whose lives have been upended by tragedy. It’s time for Congress to act.”

Established by the U.S. Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS is a temporary, renewable program that provides relief from deportation and access to a work permit for foreign nationals from certain countries who are unable to safely return to their home country due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary conditions.

In addition to Senators Harris and Menendez the Bahamas Temporary Protected Status of 2019 is co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).