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US Plans Increase In Legal Migration From Cuba

UNITED States officials in Washington say they aim to nudge legal immigration by Cubans up to an annual figure of over 20,000 at talks with Cuba today in New York, in a bid to halt the flow of Cuban rafters. Although the figure has been 20,000 since 1984, only about 2,700 Cubans were allowed to immigrate last year.

About 19,000 Cubans have been rescued at sea by US ships since early August. Between 1983 and 1993, 9,513 fleeing Cubans were rescued. In 1980, Mariel boatlift brought in 125,000.

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There were over 16,000 Cubans in tent camps yesterday at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in southern Cuba, and others on ships headed there. By contrast, there are 14,308 Haitians at separate tent camps at Guantanamo. Panama and Honduras have agreed to provide safe havens for total of 15,000 Cuban refugees, while the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British dependency north of Haiti, said it would take up to 2,000.

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