Fla immigrant advocates seek to help unaccompanied Central American youth arriving in state


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MIAMI — Local immigrant advocates and officials say Florida could play a key role in handling the influx of unaccompanied Central American youth crossing the U.S. border.

Miami U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia said Tuesday that Florida has long welcomed immigrants fleeing natural and political upheaval in their home countries. He noted the thousands of youth sent to Miami during the 1960s on the so-called Pedro Pan flights to escape Cuba's communist government, and the Haitians and other Central Americans fleeing war and earthquakes who were allowed to make Florida home. Local advocates say they have been sounding warnings for months about the arriving youth, especially in Central Florida.

Garcia was headed to Brownsville, Texas, Wednesday to tour centers housing youth seeking asylum and to discuss lessons learned from Florida.

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