MIAMI - A vintage blue taxicab converted into a seagoing vessel and carrying several Cuban immigrants was intercepted Tuesday off Key West by the Coast Guard, 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 bow in front and appeared to have at least four immigrants aboard.
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.
In 2004 Grass made a second attempt to get to the United States illegally — this time aboard a Buick sedan powering another homemade barge.
The Chevy, tied to 55-gallon drums, was 40 miles from South Florida when the U.S. Coast Guard stopped them and sank the Chevy as a hazard to navigation. The Coast Guard later did the same with the Buick. Losing the Chevy, Grass' means of support on the island, broke his heart as well.
"It's criminal that they sank it," Grass said. "I see my truck ... as a symbol of freedom, a way of allowing the world to understand why people in Cuba are desperate enough to invent a floating truck."
After their second unsuccessful attempt in February of last year, the U.S. Coast Guard took them to the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Grass and his family had more success sticking to land. After 10 months, U.S. officials relocated the Grass family to Costa Rica in December, and from there the three made their way to Mexico, where on March 12 they took a taxi across the U.S. border at Brownsville, Texas. They asked for political asylum, and federal immigration officials admitted them into the country.
Seems like all they really have to do is ask:
Cuba bad, America good. Can we stay here?