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Illegals Run Aground in Christiansted Harbor

Aug. 17, 2004 – The local wags hanging around Christiansted Harbor on Tuesday morning had a lot to talk about.
First there was that small, non-descript sailboat run aground on the reef just west of Protestant Cay. There was conjecture from someone who knows about these things that it appeared that someone had stolen a yacht from the British Virgin Islands. Then there was talk about police officers running down men in the downtown area, handcuffing them and hauling them away.
According to Sgt. Thomas Hannah, the police spokesman with the real story, the boat had been filled with undocumented aliens – 22 males and eight females. It had run aground about 5 a.m. A business owner reported to police that three men swam in from the boat. Police arrived and arrested those three and questioned them about who else was aboard the vessel.
The boat might have been doing some island hopping, as those aboard came from Haiti, Cuba, the Dominica Republic and Puerto Rico. Police officials had no idea why the Puerto Ricans were aboard, since they could enter the Virgin Islands legally.
One of the women was well into a pregnancy. On Sunday, another undocumented alien gave birth on St. John, the baby therefore being a U.S. citizen.
Hannah said that the officers caught everyone involved in the Tuesday Christiansted incident. But in cases such as the Sunday one on St. John, he said, when aliens have been ashore for a while and there is no way of knowing how many were on the boat that brought them, it is impossible to tell if any got away.
Hannah said St. John is most often the choice for landing undocumented aliens because it has so many isolated beaches. The last time illegals were caught on St. Croix was in May, after they landed on the East End near Kramer's Park.
People from the boat run aground on the reef Tuesday told police they had paid between $800 and $3,000 to be brought into the territory.
As the police took the last of the illegals away to be turned over to immigration officials, one local shook his head and wondered aloud, "Why would they try to land in the middle of Christiansted?"

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