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28243: Hermantin(News46 migrants rounded up after landing (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Sat, Apr. 08, 2006

46 migrants rounded up after landing
A group of 46 mostly Haitian migrants was found after having washed ashore in Hillsboro Beach and was quickly taken into custody.

The dream of living in America was dashed Friday for 46 migrants, mostly Haitians, who came ashore at dawn in Hillsboro Beach, and were quickly rounded up by police.

Leaving a seaworthy 45-foot fishing boat beached in the sand, the men, women and two children fanned out on the streets of the small Northeast Broward city.

A Hillsboro Beach officer noticed two men walking along A1A about 6:30 a.m. They had ''Haitian accents and broken English,'' and said they had just gotten off a boat, said Hillsboro Police Chief John Ballard.

Officers chased down the migrants on the beach and between buildings, even finding one man hiding under a truck, Ballard said.

''I don't know that we got them all,'' he said.

Speaking through a maintenance worker at the Hillsboro Beach Police station who translated for them, they told police they had spent four days at sea.

''They said they were thirsty. They were hungry,'' said translator Joseph Lodius, 47.

One woman, who said she is three months pregnant, complained of being dizzy, Lodius said, but felt better after a drink of water.

None needed medical attention.

But U.S. Border Patrol officials aren't convinced that the group -- 44 Haitians, one Cuban and one Jamaican national -- spent so much time at sea.

''It's apparent this is a smuggling venture,'' said Steve McDonald, a spokesman with the U.S. Border Patrol.

``Smugglers will coach the smuggled aliens to say that it took longer for them to get there . . . anything to deflect suspicion.''

Under normal conditions, a boat ride from Haiti could take about 36 hours, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Seven Haitians came ashore on Hillsboro Beach Jan. 1 and were taken into custody, said McDonald.

In most cases, Haitians who arrive in the country illegally are sent back. The Jamaican migrant also could be sent back. The Cuban man is eligible to stay in the United States and apply for residency after a year.

After several hours at the Hillsboro Beach station Friday, the newcomers were loaded onto a bus and hauled to a Border Patrol station in Pembroke Pines for further questioning -- except for one man who was removed from the bus in handcuffs before it left the station.

The reason for his detention was unclear.

McDonald had no information on the origin of the boat, which had an expired Florida registration.

Lee Pfeiffer, a Louisville, Ky. resident vacationing in South Florida, said he saw police helicopters hovering early Friday morning.

''I put a big zoom lens on my camera and I saw this boat washed ashore,'' Pfeiffer told WFOR CBS-4, The Miami Herald's news partner. ``Looked like just a fishing boat.''

McDonald said officials are trying to locate the boat captain.

''We don't know if he is among the group or if he is elsewhere,'' said McDonald, the Border Patrol spokesman.

Herald writers Jasmine Kripalani and Stephanie Chen contributed to this report.