NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government is expecting a “big departure” of Hurricane Dorian evacuees currently residing in the United States as sponsorships for accommodations come to an end in March.
Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey told Eyewitness News Online yesterday some 70 Bahamians living in Palm Beach were guaranteed accommodations by the Catholic Charities until March 8.
Mackey said the organization has also guaranteed to assist the consul with getting back to The Bahamas with transportation and “a little incentive”.
“So anyone who decides to stay past that period, there will be no more assistance per say – that exists now,” she said.
Mackey continued: “We are looking at March 8 as a big departure.
“We are hoping that they will move and go ahead and go back home.
“We are not sure what they are going to do, but March 8 is the date when accommodations will no longer be taken care of.”
Dorian, the strongest storm to hit the northwest Bahamas, left thousands displaced, hundreds missing and at least 67 dead.
In the aftermath of the deadly Category 5 storm in early September last year, the Bahamian consul processed over 300 Dorian evacuees living in limbo in the United States since.
School-aged children have been allowed in public schools in the cities, but the evacuees are not allowed to work as they only hold U.S. visitors’ visas.
Following the storm, the White House stated Bahamian evacuees would not be granted temporary protected status (TPS), which would have allowed them to live and work in the country.
Those Bahamians have been advised not to seek employment, which could jeopardize their visa status.
Mackey yesterday echoed those words of advice.
“The U.S. government has not changed its position,” she said.
“There was no protected status given, so they will not be able to work, so when their visas expire they will have to return home or they risk losing their visas.”
Mackey encouraged those Bahamians not to overstay their time.
Asked whether she was aware when those visas will expire the, the consul general noted that all visas were given on a case by case basis with some people given less than others.
The deadline for some individuals who arrived in September could come as soon as the end of February, Mackey said.