Paul Richter, L. A. Times, Feb. 11
WASHINGTON — U.S. officials warned Haitians on Tuesday not to flee to Florida because of the civil strife on their island, and made new preparations to intercept any who try to make the perilous ocean journey.
As U.S. diplomats intensified their efforts to halt the spreading violence, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher echoed long-standing U.S. concerns about large waves of immigrants from the Caribbean.
“We don’t want to open up our gates or invite people. That’s not the solution to Haiti’s problems,” Boucher said.
Tension created by such immigration frequently has taken on political overtones in Florida, with voters demanding action to stem the influxes and holding elected officials responsible. The issue could be especially sensitive this year because of President Bush’s desire to win Florida and its crucial electoral votes.
A State Department official who insisted on anonymity told reporters that U.S. authorities were watching carefully for signs of an exodus, and had alerted the Coast Guard to take precautions. Two Coast Guard cutters are on patrol between Florida and Haiti.
Read the rest of this article here.