UPDATE 1-No temporary protected status for Bahamians -White House
(Adds background, quote from White House official)
WASHINGTON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The United States does not plan to invoke temporary protected immigration status for Bahamians currently in the United States, a White House official said on Wednesday, after the archipelago was battered by a Category 5 hurricane.
"The Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian are facing a humanitarian crisis, and the American government, international partners and private organizations continue to support them with aid and services. At this time we do not plan to invoke Temporary Protected Status for those currently in the United States," the official said.
About 2,500 people are feared missing in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, raising concerns the death toll may significantly rise beyond the 50 reported so far.
State and federal lawmakers in Florida asked President Donald Trump to grant Bahamians Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which lets foreign nationals whose home countries have been hurt by a war or natural disaster live and work in the United States.
The United States has a long history of allowing evacuees from countries such as Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti to enter the country under the TPS program.
But Trump on Monday said the Bahamas had "tremendous problems" with allowing "very bad people" into the country and that doors could open for "very bad drug dealers" by easing immigration rules for U.S.-bound Bahamians.
"Everybody needs totally proper documentation," Trump told reporters.
Administration data shows the Caribbean plays a small role in the narcotics trade. Critics have accused Trump of demonizing Bahamians to stop non-white immigrants from entering the United States. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown)
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