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9971: U.S. Coast Guard repatriates 128 Haitian migrants (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

     MIAMI, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Almost 130 Haitian migrants were taken home
by the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday after being picked up at sea over the
weekend, the latest in a stream of Haitians trying to come to the United
     A group of 43 migrants, traveling on a wooden sailboat, was picked up
by the Coast Guard just north of the impoverished Caribbean nation on
Friday. Another group, of 85 people, was found north of Cuba on Saturday,
the Coast Guard said in a statement.
     Some 1,765 Haitian migrants have been intercepted at sea by the Coast
Guard and sent home this year, compared with 1,394 for 2000. In recent
weeks, U.S. officials have been concerned over a false rumor circulating in
Haiti that U.S. policy has changed on migrants.
     "That is simply not true," Lt. Cmdr. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard
spokesman, said of the rumors that visa requirements had been relaxed
because of a need for more workers after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York
and Washington.
     "The Coast Guard will interdict and repatriate any migrants who
attempt to illegally enter the United States," he said.
     During a three-day period in November, the Coast Guard intercepted 350
Haitians trying to make the 600-mile (960-km) ocean journey to Florida in
five boats. Two boats carrying more than 200 Haitians disappeared at sea
last month.