SAN ANTONIO - Nearly 30 victims are still recovering at local hospitals after taking a risky journey in the back of a semi-trailer from a location near Laredo to San Antonio.
The Mexican Consulate of San Antonio has confirmed that 25 of the 39 people discovered on the truck early Sunday morning were from Mexico. The nationality of the others hasn't been confirmed.
Father Phillip Ley is with Posada Guadalupe, a shelter that offers immigrants in dire need a place to stay and provides unofficial counseling.
"Having lived in Central America, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, I have seen people shot down on the street," Father Ley said. "I know what they go through, and so when people make an effort to come north, I know they're, in many cases, coming to survive."
Once the victims are released from the hospitals, they will be investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE agents say that some could even serve as witnesses for the prosecution and, in exchange, apply for visas that would grant them permanent residence.
"The greatest needs that they have is for somebody to guide them," Father Ley said.
That's where Posada Guadalupe hopes to step in for the victims. All residents at the home are in the process of getting legal status and are referred there by local hospitals, immigration lawyers, and detention centers for unaccompanied minors.
"Their time with us helps them to acclimate a little bit to U.S. society," Father Ley said. "We've had a number of success stories. We had three of them graduate from high school in June. Shortly after that, they moved out. They got an apartment."
The driver of the 18-wheeler used to transport the undocumented immigrants could face life in prison or the death penalty.
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