MIAMI – A vintage blue taxicab converted into a seagoing vessel and carrying several Cuban immigrants was intercepted Tuesday off Key West (search) by the Coast Guard (search), a television station reported.
Footage from NBC-6 in Miami showed Coast Guard officers boarding the blue vehicle, which had been modified with a boat prow in front and appeared to have at least four immigrants aboard.
The Coast Guard declined to comment. "Under U.S. government policy, we cannot discuss migrant interdiction operations until disposition is complete," said Petty Officer Sandra Bartlett (search). That process often takes days, she said.
Under U.S. immigration policy, Cubans who reach U.S. shores generally are allowed to stay while those caught at sea are usually returned.
In 2003, immigrants tried to cross the Florida Straits aboard a green 1951 Chevrolet pickup, which a man named Luis Grass had converted into a boat. They were intercepted and sent back to Cuba. The Coast Guard then sunk the craft.
In 2004 Grass made a second attempt to get to the United States illegally — this time aboard a Buick sedan powering another homemade barge.
Grass and his family had more success sticking to land: on March 12 they entered the U.S. though the Texas-Mexico border and were allowed to stay.