LAREDO, TEXAS – Cases like the deadly hot trailer full of immigrants outside San Antonio Walmart this weekend, come at no surprise to many who’ve been smuggled on their journey into the U.S.
In the border city of Laredo, Texas, a Cuban immigrant said he has seen it all.
One thing that brings people from all walks of life together is food.
That’s especially true at the Emanuel Baptist church in Laredo where three Cubans, a Mexican and a pastor invited the KENS 5 Border Team to dine with them at their table.
Each one had a story to tell about how they made it to the U.S.
Rey, who asked to conceal his full name to not jeopardize his immigration case, said he’s finally in peace after two years traveling through Latin America to reach Laredo.
“Trinidad, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay...” All in all, the 34-year-old crossed 12 countries where he witnessed some of the most horrifying moments in his life.
He said he saw people being raped, scammed, physically abused, and even killed along the way. Everyone paying a high price to reach their American dream.
Rey recalled how he was crammed in beds of trucks with other immigrants for hours as he was smuggled through Central America.
It cost Rey about $10,000 reach the Texas border.
To his misfortune, on the very day he finally made it to the Laredo port of entry in January, then-President Obama officially ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, that gave immediate refuge to Cubans.
Stuck in Mexico, he became a target to cartels.
“Estuve secuestrado 4 dias.” Kidnapped for four days he said in Spanish was all Rey was willing to say about that ordeal.
Four months after his escape from the cartel, he was granted a court hearing in the U.S. for political asylum.
He said all he wanted was to be heard even if that meant spending time at a detention center. Rey didn’t mind, he wanted to do it the right way and not enter the U.S. illegally. He knew if he did, that he would be handing over his life again to criminals.
“How many people give their lives to get here,” he reflected. “How many people die? Simply to live free.”
Rey is waiting for news on his next parole hearing. He said it’s one more step toward his dream of one day building his own business and having his own family in America.