Puerto Rico Faces Extensive Damage After Hurricane Maria

Source: Carolyn Cole / Getty

The Trump administration is forcing evacuees from Puerto Rico and Dominica to sign promissory notes ensuring full repayment for transportation costs. And it’s keeping passports as collateral.

According to the Department of State’s website, upon evacuation, Department of State officials are confiscating evacuees’ passports. They must arrange payment to obtain new ones.

The promissory notes fall under a longstanding, but discretionary, policy meant to ensure evacuees will pay transportation costs, which are based on “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis.” People who sign the notes are essentially taking out a loan from the U.S. government.

A State Department source said 225 people had been evacuated from Dominica, but did not provide a number for Puerto Rico. It’s unclear how many people have been evacuated on military flights from Puerto Rico between being hit by both Irma and Maria in the past three weeks. Right now, loan repayments cannot be completed due to the ongoing emergency in the region. This means that with no passports, Puerto Ricans being evacuated from the island cannot leave the country once they reach the mainland.

Once again, 45 (and the rest of the U.S. government) has effectively f-cked Puerto Rico over—keeping them poor and trapped.