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9852: Search for missing Haitians ends (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Search for missing Haitians ends
By Jody A. Benjamin
December 5, 2001
The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search Tuesday for two Haitian men
thought to be among a group of 185 Haitians whose rickety sailboat ran
aground a day earlier in Biscayne National Park.
But the fate of the survivors in federal custody remained unclear. Coast
Guard officials brought them ashore citing safety concerns.
Some could face immediate deportation because they have a criminal
background, pose a threat to the community or have a communicable disease.
Others will be allowed to ask an immigration judge for the right to stay
"Nothing will be decided collectively,'' said Patricia Mancha of the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service. "Everything will be decided on an
Meanwhile, federal authorities questioned survivors throughout the day about
whether the 10-day trip was the work of smugglers. No one from the trip will
be released until law enforcement officials have come to a conclusion,
possibly several days away, officials said.
"With the number of people we have to talk to, it could take a while,'' said
Joe Mellia, spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol, the agency leading the
investigation. On Tuesday there were 140 adult males being held at the Krome
detention center, 22 women at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center
near Miami Airport and 11 boys at the Boystown facility for unaccompanied
minors. The remaining survivors were families held by INS at a local motel.
Some of these families could be released within 48 hours, according to
Haitian-American activist Jean Robert Lafortune, who said he spoke with INS
officials Tuesday. INS officials would not confirm that.
Lafortune said he was generally pleased with INS handling of the incident.
"In the past, we have been worried about the way INS treated minor
children,'' said Lafortune. "In this case, INS has shown some sensitivity. I
Jody A. Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
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