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Cuban immigrants come ashore on Hollywood beach

Cuban immigrants come ashore on Hollywood beach
Eleven men were at sea about three days, police say
By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel
8:28 p.m. EDT, September 9, 2013

HOLLYWOOD—

Eleven jubilant Cuban immigrants dropped to their knees and kissed the
ground Monday afternoon after their boat came ashore on Hollywood beach.

Some of the men cheered and posed for pictures snapped by beachgoers.
The lifeguard stationed a few dozen yards from the 20-foot boat’s
landing spot also took some pictures, then called police, Sgt. Pablo
Vanegas said.

“Eleven adults jumped off the boat and ran toward North Ocean Drive,” he
said. “They appeared to be from Cuba, immigrants.”

Pamela Smilack, of Dania Beach, was sunning herself a few yards away
when the boat came ashore near Charleston Street.

“I was here about 10 minutes and I heard a lot of ruckus very close by,”
she said. “When I saw them kiss the ground and start cheering, I assumed
that they had come from Cuba and made it safely to Florida, so it was a
beautiful thing to witness.”

The all-male group headed west across a boardwalk to a parking lot in
the 4600 block of State Road A1A. Smilack overheard the lifeguard on the
phone with police, so she ran after the group.

“I heard the police were on the way and I just wanted to help out,” she
said. “I don’t know if that was a bad thing.”

Smilack caught up to them at the end of the boardwalk and took a picture.

“I said, ‘One, two, three, GO!’ and then when they jumped in the air I
got the photo and then I go, ‘Run!’”

Police arrived moments later to round up the men; the U.S. Border Patrol
took them into custody, Vanegas said.

“They were able to communicate with some of our officers and [said] they
were out at sea for approximately three days,” he said. “[Fire] Rescue
did respond to make sure they were OK and they were transported by
Border Patrol to be processed.”

The group landed around 1:43 p.m. and all were in custody within an
hour. They didn’t say much, according to Vanegas. “Just that ‘We’re from
Cuba,’ in Spanish,” he said.

The men, ranging in age from 25 to 45, were taken to the Customs and
Border Protection station in Dania Beach, spokeswoman Elee Erice said,
where they were fingerprinted and photographed.

“[Officials] try to do some database checks to see if these people are
who they say they are,” she said. “We want to make sure they’re not
criminals.”

Once the men were processed and given a notice to appear before an
immigration judge, members of Church World Service of Miami, which
assists immigrants, were expected to pick up the group. The Cubans would
be taken to Miami to contact relatives, Erice said.

Having a boatload of Cuban immigrants land in Hollywood is relatively
rare, Vanegas said. “We do get boats coming ashore in this [kind of]
situation,” he said. “But it doesn’t happen that often.”

wkroustan@tribune.com or 954-356-4303

Source: “Eleven Cuban immigrants come ashore on Hollywood beach – South
Florida Sun-Sentinel.com” –
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/hollywood/fl-hollywood-refugee-boaters-land-20130909,0,2859261.story

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