Miami's Agony

South Florida is swamped by refugee needs—and violence

In the spring of 1980, when thousands of Cubans were mobbing the port city of Mariel for their helter-skelter exodus to the shores of Florida, President Fidel Castro denounced the emigrants as escoria (scum). As if to ensure that he was at least partly correct, Castro added some convicts and mental patients to the Mariel horde. Indeed, of the 125,000 "Marielitos" who landed in Florida, 1,709 have been jailed by federal authorities as undesirables, and 587 more have been locked up until they can find sponsors....

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