US officials are still stymied in their efforts to send back some Cuban refugees. The US has identified 1,000 "hardened criminals" and wants to return them. Also there are, "as a minimum, several hundred others" who want to go back, says Ralph Braibanti, a Cuban desk officer in the State Department.

But so far Cuba is showing no signs of wanting them.

Why not? According to Braibanti: 1. Cuba contends the people left voluntarily (though some came only to get out of prison); 2. When they left, their homes often were boarded up and property confiscated, so going home would be hard; 3. Castro's untrue branding of most of the refugees as "scum" would be undermined if some came back voluntarily; 4. Castro is just stubborn.

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Some who want to return are homesick. Many left families -- hoping they soon could be reunited in the US. Some have been driven to the desperate act of hijacking a plane -- only to be arrested by the Cuban government if they make it that far.

Meanwhile, the placement effort in the US has slowed. Most of those still homeless are single men, non english-speaking, and without friends or families in the U.S.m

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