Trump Lifts Shipping Restrictions On Puerto Rico, Feds Force Evacuees To Promise Repayment On Travel Costs

The Hill reports:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced early Thursday that President Trump has waived the Jones Act, lifting shipping restrictions to bolster relief efforts on hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that the administration was considering lifting the law, which bans foreign-flagged ships from carrying freight between U.S. ports.

But there’s also this:

The Trump administration is forcing Americans seeking evacuation from Puerto Rico to sign promissory notes ensuring full repayment for transportation costs, and is keeping evacuees’ passports as collateral, according to a new report.

Market Watch reported on Thursday that the State Department is using longstanding but discretionary policy to ensure that evacuees are shouldered with the transportation costs, which according to the website are based off of “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis.”

Evacuees who surrender their passports under this system don’t see them returned until payment is received. “Upon evacuation, a Department of State official must limit an evacuee’s passport. In order to obtain a new passport, an evacuee must arrange payment as agreed upon via the promissory note,” the State Department’s website reads.