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Haitian Refugees Reach Fla., Phone Sheriff

Associated Press

The latest group of Haitians to reach U.S. soil here didn’t wait to be discovered--members dialed an operator to announce their arrival early today.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had an announcement,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Lee Pinder said. “And I’ve seen loads (of Haitians) in my years here. But never had them announce, ‘Here I am!’ ”

Pinder said 23 men and three women beached their small boat on Key Largo about 5 a.m.

One of the group who could speak some English walked to a nearby pay phone, dialed the operator and in broken English told her of the group’s arrival, Pinder said.

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The operator alerted the sheriff’s office, which sent deputies to investigate.

“When they saw the officers they all started coming out of the bushes,” Pinder said.

Pinder said the Haitians were taken to a sheriff’s substation to be examined by medical technicians and interviewed by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

“We’ve sent out for some bologna,” Pinder said. “There are no pregnant ladies, no babies; they are not weathered, everybody seems to be in good condition.”

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