Bad Trump: DHS will NOT waive shipping restrictions to help Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria, and as the United States territory attempts to recover, it is facing roadbloacks from the Trump administration.

According to Reuters, President Donald Trump has rejected requests from Congress to remove shipping restrictions in order to receive gasoline and other supplies that Puerto Rico needs in the aftermath of Maria.

Rerportedly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied a request to waive The Jones Act, a piece of legislation that restricts shipping between coasts to U.S. vessels. Interestingly enough, the DHS did this for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Moreover, the DHS has waived the rule in the past to permit foreign vessels to supply items to damaged areas. Officials say lifting The Jones Act would not help Puerto Rico because of destroyed ports that prevent ships from docking.

“The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability. The situation in Puerto Rico is much different,” Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement

It is estimated that the island territory could be without power for as long as six months.

Puerto Rican officials have lambasted The Jones Act for years, arguing that it makes the importation of basic supplies, like clothing, food and fuel, much more expensive.

Under The Jones Act, goods entering Puerto Rico need to travel on U.S. boats staffed with unionized U.S. crews. If a Chinese company ships something to Puerto Rico, it first needs to go to the U.S. border, the goods need to be taken out, reloaded and then shipped to the island.

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain did the right thing, encouraging the Trump administration in a statement to rethink the decision.

“The Department of Homeland Security has been given the ability to waive the Jones Act to accommodate national security concerns, and has done so twice in the last month,” McCain wrote. “These emergency waivers have been valuable to speed up recovery efforts in the impacted regions. However, I am very concerned by the Department’s decision not to waive the Jones Act for current relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Maria.”

This is just plain wrong.

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