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#2864: Haitians come ashore in Lauderdale (fwd)


Published Tuesday, March 14, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Haitians come ashore in Lauderdale ------By ADAM RAMIREZ

 As many as 30 Haitians walked onto Fort Lauderdale beach Monday
morning, abandoning the cabin cruiser that U.S. Border Patrol agents
believe smuggled them in from the Bahamas. Authorities captured 20 of
the refugees -- 17 men and three women. Two of them were taken to
Broward General Medical Center for treatment -- a man with a foot
 injury and a woman complaining of chest pains. The group came ashore
about 9 a.m. near Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area at State Road
A1A and Sunrise Boulevard, said U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief Dan
Geoghegan. ``There were probably 30 people on board. They dropped anchor
and abandoned the boat in the surf,'' Geoghegan said. ``Eleven of them
got away. The smuggler may have been one of them.'' The Border Patrol
said this group brought to 152 the number of Haitians who have come
ashore in South Florida since Oct. 1 -- 48 of them in the past two
weeks, Geoghegan said.  ``This spike might have to do with low seas or
opportune sailing weather,'' he said. In Monday's landing, Fort
Lauderdale police received calls from beachside residents that 20 to 30
people were running from an officer. ``We had an officer on the beach
who noticed them, and then we sent out backup,'' Fort Lauderdale Police
Det. Mike Reed said. ``We detained everyone we could. Some made their
way into Birch state park.'' About 8:30 a.m., Bill Hughes was gazing at
the ocean with binoculars from his 17th-floor apartment at the Shore
Club, 1237 NE Sixth Ave., when he saw the heavily loaded boat drifting
to shore. ``I thought it was having engine problems, but as it got
closer to shore, it seemed something fishy was going on,'' said Hughes,
57, a winter visitor from Maine. Hughes said that when the vessel got
about six feet from shore, a man threw an anchor over the side, and then
the boat hatch swung open. ``They came streaming out of that boat, one
after another. My goodness, I couldn't believe how many people they had
in there,'' he said. ``And they all just calmly walked to shore. Not a
one of them ran.'' Hughes said he saw men and women, some elderly, walk
across the beach and head north and south along A1A. They left clothes
floating in the surf. Some made calls from pay telephones. Three men
flagged down a Yellow Cab and headed for the airport, police said.
 Those detained were taken to the Border Patrol processing center in
Pembroke Pines before being sent to the Krome detention center west of
Miami. They are likely to be returned to Haiti after a hearing before a
judge. Under current U.S. immigration policy, any immigrants intercepted
at sea are returned to their home country. For those who reach shore,
the policy differs: Cubans routinely are allowed to stay while others
must establish asylum claims under much more rigorous standards. Cubans
who reach shore are allowed to stay; Haitians are routinely sent home.
 The boat, a 25-foot cabin cruiser, is registered in the Bahamas and
might have been stolen, authorities said. It was towed to Port
Everglades, Geoghegan said. Border Patrol agents were trying to identify
the boat's captain. ``If I can determine who drove that boat, I can call
the U.S. attorney -- this is a federal felony,'' Geoghegan said.
``Somebody drove that boat and smuggled these people from either
Freeport or Bimini. We're trying to determine whether the smuggler is in
custody or whether he was one of the ones that got away.''