GOP Senator Marco Rubio Says It Has Always Been 'Unlawful Immigration' to the Bahamas That Has Been a Problem—Not the Other Way Around

As President Donald Trump doubled down on demands that Bahamians fleeing the destruction of Hurricane Dorian have "totally proper documentation" in order to come to the U.S., Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the state where many Bahamians have been heading, sought to point out that "unlawful immigration" from Bahamians is "very rare."

"Some useful facts for those who don't follow The Bahamas regularly," Rubio began in a tweet on Monday. "1.Unlawful immigration by Bahamians is very rare. 2. Unlawful immigration into The Bahamas has been a problem for them. 3. U.S. [and] Bahamian [governments] have an exceptionally close [and] longstanding working relationship."

Rubio's tweets came as Trump sought to warn that the U.S. needs to be "very careful" about whom it allows into the country from The Bahamas.

"We have to be very careful. Everyone needs totally proper documentation," Trump said, speaking to reporters outside the White House.

"I don't want to allow people who weren't' supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people," the U.S. leader asserted.

Expanding on his comments, Trump said: "Look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren't supposed to be there."

The U.S. leader did not provide any specific examples of who he was referring to, but he claimed that The Bahamas had some "very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers."

As the president demanded that Bahamians get "totally proper documentation" before trying to come to the U.S., however, Rubio sought to remind Americans that unlawful immigration by Bahamians is already rare.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data, Bahamians fall extremely low on the list of removals from the U.S.

In fiscal year 2018, just 101 people from The Bahamas were deported from the U.S., while just 95 were removed from the U.S. in fiscal year 2017.

Still, a Department of State fact sheet on U.S. relations with The Bahamas, which was updated on July 8, appears to provide some substance to Trump's claims, asserting that the U.S. and the Bahamian government have had to work together on "reducing crime and addressing illegal migration issues" as "The Bahamas is used often as a gateway for drugs, weapons, and illegal aliens bound for the United States."

"U.S. assistance and resources have been essential to Bahamian efforts to mitigate the persistent flow of illegal narcotics, guns, and migrants through the archipelago," it states.

Marco Rubio
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questions Kelly Craft, President Trump's nominee to be Representative to the United Nations, during her nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Rubio has spoken out in support of Bahamians fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. Stefani Reynolds/Getty