US hunts immigrants

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The Independent Online
LOS ANGELES - Scores of police officers, park wardens, and US immigration officials were yesterday searching the streets of San Francisco for 250 Chinese immigrants who, under cover of darkness, were dropped off at the Golden Gate Bridge by a ship after weeks sailing across the Pacific, writes Phil Reeves.

As the freighter then headed for international waters, ignoring all radio demands to halt, the confused new arrivals fled from a posse of law enforcement officials. About 150 were discovered in a parking lot, of whom around half were arrested; the rest scattered into nearby park woods, leaving behind a trail of luggage, cans of food and a map of the United States. Others were discovered as they wandered through residential streets, packed into cars, or attempted to hide on a golf course. The search continued yesterday.

The arrival of the ship, the Pai Chang, is one of the boldest attempts ever made to smuggle Chinese immigrants into the US. 'It was totally brazen,' said Bill Kerins, acting director of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service's anti-smuggling division. 'It shows the flagrant disregard these people have for our laws.' Last night the US Coast Guard was preparing to board the ship in international waters.