The number of Haitians fleeing the deadly uprising in their homeland has escalated, with the Coast Guard saying it has intercepted 546 people at sea over the past three to four days.
Many Haitian-Americans and immigrant advocates fear the bloodletting in Haiti will lead to another mass exodus to Florida. But officials said that is not happening yet, according to the Associated Press.
The Haitians were picked up within 50 miles of their country’s shore in about a dozen small boats, Coast Guard spokesman Luis Diaz said, bringing the total number of immigrants intercepted this month to 694. They’ve been brought onto Coast Guard cutters to receive food and water, Diaz said.
“I don’t consider that an exodus,” Diaz said. He said during a tumultuous period in Haiti during the early 1990s the Coast Guard would sometimes encounter 2,000 to 3,000 migrants in a single day.
Federal officials would not disclose if the immigrants were being returned to Haiti. On Wednesday, President Bush repeated the government’s policy to turn back any Haitian migrant trying to reach U.S. shores.