MIAMI, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Figures released by the Coast Guard in Miami show 10,696 potential illegal immigrants were intercepted at sea last year, the most since 1994.
The rafter crisis in 1994 resulted in 63,000 interdictions during the Mariel boatlift in 1980 when 125,000 Cubans came to the United States, The Miami Herald reported Wednesday.
The most interdictions last year were from the Dominican Republic, which is still struggling with its economy.
There were 4,500 Dominicans interdicted, compared with nearly 1,500 Cubans. The 2004 figures for Cubans were only slightly more than 2003 and about the same as in 1999.
The Coast Guard said not only do the figures represent an increase in migrants, it shows effectiveness in stopping boatloads of foreign immigrants bent on coming to the United States.
"Obviously, the flow numbers are much larger, but we are much better at finding them and being able to interdict," said Lt. Tony Russell, a Coast Guard spokesman.
Russell said the economic conditions in the Dominican Republic were the lost likely reason for the flow from that Caribbean country.