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#2254: 16 Haitians come ashore in Hillsboro Beach (fwd)
Published Tuesday, February 8, 2000, in the Miami Herald
16 Haitians come ashore in Hillsboro Beach____by JOHNNY DIAZ
Eleven men and five women who said they left their native Haiti in a
stolen boat Friday afternoon were found in Broward Monday morning.
The group told U.S. Border Patrol agents they stole a 25-foot boat in
Haiti to make the voyage of some 700 miles that landed them in Hillsboro
Beach. But border patrol agents doubt their story and suspect the group
was part of a smuggling operation. ``There was no fuel or extra fuel
tanks aboard the vessel,'' said Joe Mellia, an assistant border patrol
chief. ``The boat is also registered in Nassau. They had to
get from Haiti to the Bahamas and then arrange transportation to the
U.S.'' An anonymous person called Hillsboro Beach Police and reported
the group, members of which were found wandering in the 1200 block of
North State Road A1A during the pre-dawn hours Monday. They wore dry
clothing and appeared to be in good health. One of the women was
pregnant. Their boat was found beached near the Hillsboro Inlet.
Monday's incident brings the total number of Haitian landings to 37 for
the new year. Last month, in various separate landings, 21 other
Haitians reached the shores of Palm Beach County. Border patrol
officials believe the illegal immigrants often land in Northeast
Broward of Palm Beach counties because they often launch or are
smuggled through the Bahamas -- which lies parallel to the two counties.
Monday's group will be taken to Krome Detention Center in Miami-Dade
County, where they will go to a hearing before an immigration judge.
Unless a judge upholds their claim for political asylum, they will be
deported back to their homeland.