Carter administration officials said yesterday that they were looking for a site for a refugee camp in Florida to allow a more orderly and thorough processing of the thousands fleeing Cuba.
So far, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been using what it calls a "deferred inspection" policy, which gives the newcomers only a perfunctory check, hands them forms for seeking "political asylum" and then tells them to report to Miami for the more thorough inspection in 60 days.
A State Department official said yesterday that the administration will ask Congress for permission to have the asylum applicants processed thus far considered as "refugees" under the terms of a new refugee law.
This would permit full federal reimbursement to the state of Florida for cash and medical aid to the exiles. It also would allow the newcomers to be counted as part of the 19,500 Cubans targeted to enter the United States this year under the new law.
By midday yesterday, nearly 3,500 Cubans had been processed through Key West, according to INS figures. Acting INS Commissioner David Crosland announced last night that he was sending 100 members of the border patrol into the Key West area to help with the processing and to try to keep boats and small planes from making landings at unauthorized check points.