So, it’s come to this.
The President of the United States of America engages in cruelty to scare up votes.
First, Hurricane Dorian roared through the Bahamas, leaving chaos in its wake.
Now Donald Trump has stripped the victims of that chaos of their dignity.
I’m writing this angry.
I hope it shows.
There are tens of thousands of homeless Bahamians who’ve survived the hurricane – with little more than the clothes they’re wearing.
The pictures of their devastated homeland have been beamed nearly nonstop around the world, but most importantly to Americans, who happen to live in the richest country on earth.
We all learned in grade school what the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty says: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
But our president wants to make us believe that by allowing the “wretched refuse” from the Bahamas to enter our “teeming shore,” we are inviting gang members to live and thrive among us.
Worse, he knows that’s not true.
But he needs votes.
Trump’s Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner – Mark Morgan – gave tacit approval to allowing Bahamians to have, what is called, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), “I think that would be appropriate, to have that circumstance,” he said at a White House briefing.
Trump nixed that idea.
“I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States. Including some very bad people., and some very bad gang members, and some very, very bad drug dealers,” Trump told reporters.
There’s not even the slightest hint that those people who’ve lost everything, would be part of, or infiltrated by, people interested in selling drugs to unsuspecting Floridians.
In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s most recent look at drug trafficking indicates that there are more problems with people leaving the mainland of the United States to sell marijuana to the people of the Caribbean, than the other way around.
Perhaps Trump should take a close look at another passage of that Statue of Liberty inscription. The part that reads, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The key word there is “tempest-tost.”
Vacabulary.com defines it as, “pounded or hit repeatedly by storms or adversities.” – The very definition of those refugees from the Bahamas!
They aren’t criminals.
One reporter from BuzzFeed News traveled to the Bahamas and showed people there a video of Trump claiming that there were drug dealers among them.
“He’s an idiot,” said Vida Hepburn, who has run the Bootle Bay Fishing Lodge for two decades.
“We just went through a Cat-5, he can’t bother me,” Hepburn added.
There are people around the world who should be bothered.
The United States of America has always been a broad-shouldered, good-hearted country to the world’s “homeless, tempest-tost.”
Granting TPS to those displaced Bahamians would mean they’d be allowed to stay in this country and work until the Bahamas would be safe for their return.
In fact, an estimated 300,000 people from 10 countries are already in this country who have Temporary Protected Status.
But this is the Trump administration.
The “huddled masses” they’d lead us to believe, only huddle to avoid being caught making drug deals.
There will be some opportunity for some of the refugees to enter the United States.
They’ll be allowed to come into the country – but only temporarily. They’ll not be allowed to get work permits.
They must also have visas or passports.
Somebody in the Trump administration thinks it would be a good idea for people to have their travel papers on them as they fight for their very existence.
That’s simply another hard-hearted move by a presidential administration that never seems to run out of them.
Giving people a way to survive after they’ve lost everything, should never have anything to do with politics.
To this president, everything has something to do with politics.
He’s simply heartless.
Edward A. Owens is a multi-Emmy Award winner, former reporter, and anchor for Entertainment Tonight and 20-year TV-news veteran. E-mail him at email@example.com.