*President Obama spoke of improved relations between Cuba and the U.S. But for many Cubans improved relations means an end to the Cuban Adjustmant Act (CAA) that gives anyone who fled Cuba and ented the U.S. the ability to pursue residency one year later. The fear of the end of the CAA has many Cubans attempting to enter the U.S. at the Texas border wiht Mexico. Last year more than 43 thousand were processed in Texas. VL
By Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune (3.5 minute read)
The same week President Obama makes the first trip to Cuba by an American president in almost 90 years, The Rolling Stones willplay a free concert in Havana — the first open-air show there by a British rock band.
But changing times in the Communist country haven’t stopped tens of thousands from fleeing the island and saying gimme shelter to American immigration officials at Texas land ports.
From October 2015 to February 2016, more than 18,500 Cubans arrived at Texas’ Laredo field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes ports from Del Rio to Brownsville. If that trend continues, it will shatter last year’s numbers for the same ports, when a record 28,371 crossed. During the 2015 fiscal year, more than 43,150 arrived at the 20 CBP field offices in the United States that process immigrants. More than half — 25,800 — arrived in only the first five months of the current fiscal year.
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[Photo courtesy of engagecuba
In Sonora, a group of immigrants circles around a coyote, Leonardo Cerda, who will—for a price—lead them across the treacherous desert to the United States. Fearful that Cerda may be one of those who will collect their money up front and then leave them stranded to die, the travelers ultimately are forced to put their trust in him and begin the dangerous crossing to a new life. Afraid even of each other, they initially avoid eye contact or conversation. But as the three-day passage across the blistering landscape progresses, the fight to survive the grueling trip ensures that their lives—and deaths—are linked forever.
While trudging along, placing one exhausted foot in front of the other, the travelers each remember their lives and the reasons they have been forced to abandon their land, homes and loved ones. Among the immigrants is Menda Fuentes, a salvadoreña, the only member of her family to survive a massacre during her country’s civil war. Then there is Julio Escalante and his young grandson Manuelito, who pay the full fee even though they plan to go only halfway. By their side is Encarnación Padilla, an ancient indigenous woman who has survived ostracism and her involvement in the Zapatista uprising. Next to her walk Nicanor and Borrego Osuna, two brothers who suffer the ultimate indignity just to make it to the United States. Finally, there is Armando Guerrero, shifty, suspicious-looking, and clearly different from the rest because of his fancy clothes as well as the mysterious bag to which he clings.
In addition to confronting their own internal demons, they must also face the dangers that they encounter on the trail: poisonous snakes, debilitating dehydration and exhaustion, and a ferocious sandstorm that tears the group apart. This riveting novel explores the lives behind the news stories and confirms Limón’s status as one of the country’s premiere Latinas writing about issues that affect us all.
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