Oct. 4, 2005 A group of illegal immigrants was picked up on a fishing boat, The Wild Orchid, last week by the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel was on the maritime boundary between the British and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But in an unusual twist, officials said many of those taken into custody had passports.
Eighteen foreign nationals — one from Haiti, the rest from the Dominican Republic — were sent back home, but a spokesman for the Coast Guard in San Juan said they turned the travel documents over to the federal Bureau for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Officials there said the passports appeared to be legitimate.
"It's not normal for these people to carry passports when they embark on these smuggling ventures from the Dominican Republic or anywhere," said ICE spokesman Ivan Ortiz. "Our agents took a look at the passports. The passports seemed valid."
But Ortiz said because the immigrants did not have visas, which would have allowed them entry into the United States, they were sent back to the D.R.
"It's unusual for these people to carry passports but it's not impossible,"
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