The Illegal and the Refugee-An American Love Story
“The Illegal and the Refugee-An American Love Story,” is a tale with roots set deep in Mexico and Cuba. It is a story about letting go of the past, the resilience of the human spirit and of deep, unconditional love. Maria Torres and Ernesto Rodriguez take the reader on their tumultuous journeys, from Mexico City to East L.A. and from Havana to Miami, in a quest to find their missing loved ones. More
“The Illegal and the Refugee-An American Love Story,” is a tale with roots set deep in Mexico and Cuba and that comes to life in the United States. It is a story about letting go of the past, the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity, and of deep, unconditional love.
Maria Torres is a bright university student from Mexico City and a committed social activist. She becomes gravely concerned when against her wishes, Eduardo; the love of her life decides to cross into the United States illegally and then vanishes from the face of the earth. After weeks of sleepless nights and worrisome days, Maria decides to follow in his footsteps in the hope of finding him or finding out what happened to him. She survives a treacherous and traumatic crossing of the Arizona desert on foot, ending up in East Los Angeles and an illegal immigrant. Although she has landed in a vibrant Latino-American community she quickly finds out the price her compatriots are willing to pay in order to pursue their dreams of a better life. Promptly she begins her desperate search for Eduardo, determined to find him, but as time passes by without results, an ominous cloud begins to hover over her, and doubt slowly begins to enter her heart.
Meanwhile in Havana, Cuba, Ernesto Rodriguez has grown tired of living in a hermetic and state controlled country and dreams of fleeing to the United States with the love of his life Yaneti. After many sacrifices he succeeds in sending her off first on a small boat in the middle of the night and she is never heard from again. For months he languishes alone, frozen in fear and ulcerated by guilt, desperate to do something. He miraculously gets the money he needs to escape Cuba from his father’s relatives in Miami and decides to use the same smugglers as Yaneti did in order to follow her trail. He barely survives a life-threatening and harrowing sea crossing and washes up confused and half-alive on the Florida shores. Thanks to the support of his relatives in Miami, he quickly settles in and begins his new life as a Cuban Refugee, legally in the United States. Almost immediately he begins a relentless quest for Yaneti even though his parents and relatives have strong misgivings about what might have happened to her, but Ernesto is not quite ready to give up on her, not yet.
“He was out for a few hours–he wasn’t sure for how long, but when he came to, he was dehydrated and his lips were cracked and he felt terrible. It was late afternoon and the sun was lower in the sky. He lifted his head. His face was caked with sand, and he sat up and spit the sand out of his mouth and looked around with bewildered eyes. He slowly got up and saw that in front of him and to each side were tall apartment buildings. It was quiet; no one was around. For a few minutes he just stood there, wobbly and confused and unable to process his thoughts clearly. He had no idea where he was and he realized that all he had on was his underwear. He hesitantly put one foot forward and then another. His feet felt heavy, and every movement he made hurt him somewhere. He made his way in the direction of the nearest building and that’s when he saw it–a shape that stopped him dead in his tracks, fluttering lightly in the late afternoon breeze. It was an American flag, and to Ernesto it was the most beautiful thing he had seen in his entire life. He just looked at it and smiled, and a tear rolled down one of his cheeks. He knew then that he had made it. He was in America.”