Bahamas Issues Rare United States Travel Advisory, But Bahamians May Actually Be Safer Abroad

In a rare move, the Bahamas has issued a travel advisory specifically targeting black males who might be travelling to the United States. Atlas Obscura reports that the Bahamas isn't alone in issuing the travel advisory; New Zealand, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have also issued travel advisories.

Ninety-one percent of Bahamian men identified as black in the last census, so it does not come as a real surprise that the Bahamas would issue such a travel advisory. In fact, the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration issued a statement regarding the current unrest regarding the conflicts between police and Black Lives Matter protesters.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers," the Bahamas travel advisory says. "We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the U.S. but especially to the affected cities to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal seems to echo this sentiment, noting that many Bahamians might be traveling to the United States today, given July 11 marks Bahamas Independence Day. This is the second summer in which a country has issued a travel advisory for the United States; last year, France issued a United States travel advisory for St. Louis, Cleveland, and Baltimore in the wake of police shootings in those cities.

The Bahamas travel advisory for the United States might actually be more surprising, Slate reports, because Bahamian men might actually be safer abroad than in their own country. Slate notes the Bahamas travel advisory might enhance the safety of those traveling to the United States but adds that the travel advisory is also somewhat prudent, given the current unrest in several American cities.

"Who would argue against advising young men 'to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police'?" writer Mike Pesca notes.

Pesca also says that the murder rate in the Bahamas is actually comparable to the top three or four deadliest cities in the United States at around 38 per 100,000 residents. He also noted that as such, the United States has said the crime level in the Bahamas is "critical," and as a result, the United States has its own travel advisory about the Bahamas. It's also suggested that perhaps the Bahamas travel advisory is not meant to instil worry in Bahamian men about the potential for being killed. Rather, Pesca says that the Bahamas travel advisory is potentially meant to indicate to those traveling from the Bahamas that if they don't want to be somehow hassled by the police, they should behave in an appropriate matter.

New Zealand and the other countries mimic the Bahamas travel advisory, even going so far as to suggest that travelers should "avoid all protests and demonstrations as on occasion civil disorder can result."

Ireland seems to take a slightly stronger stance than the Bahamas travel advisory, stating that while the United States is in general safe, the country's stance on illegal immigration means that all travelers should have their appropriate travel documents at all times.

"Some States (Arizona, Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama) introduced legislation designed to identify and reduce the number of illegal immigrants in their states," Ireland's advisory states. "These measures include authorisation for police officers to detain people they suspect of being in the US illegally. Although some of the measures are being contested in the courts, it is important that you have your documents available for scrutiny if you're asked by law enforcement officials to present them wherever you are in the United States."

The United Kingdom also includes a travel warning for their LGBTI citizens, unlike the Bahamas travel advisory, with specific attention paid to the states of Mississippi and North Carolina.

"The U.S. is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country," the statement reads. "LGBT travellers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi."

While the Bahamas travel advisory is certainly notable, it is not just those who identify as black who might have some concerns when traveling through the United States.

[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]