Ridey Rielo, of Williamsport, says the best decision she ever made in her life was to leave her native Cuba to come to the United States. It was a journey that began for Rielo and her husband, Sammy Rodriguez, by crossing the border from Mexico when she was 8 1/2 months pregnant.
Rielo says, although Cuba is a beautiful country, it is a hard place to live.
“The salaries are really low, like $15 a month. Everything is really expensive. If you want food, if you have kids, it’s really hard.”
It is difficult even if you have good jobs, like Rielo and her husband, who worked in IT, did in Havana. Rielo and Rodriguez always found a way to work multiple jobs to keep their kids fed, Rielo said.
If you leave something outside, even a pumpkin for a Halloween decoration, someone will steal it to eat, she shared.
“Cuba is not safe. When you make $15 a month, people are looking to make easy money,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez had a work visa through his IT job in Cuba to go to Mexico. The couple made the decision to have Rielo accompany him and the pair would ask for asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“We decided to cross the border and come to the United States for a better life, a better future for our kids,” said Rielo.
Once they made it to the U.S. border, they requested asylum and their names were put on a list. Then they waited to be interviewed by U.S. officials. The pair had to get a hotel room in Mexico for two weeks while they waited, which cost them all the money that they had brought.
Once they were interviewed, U.S. officials gave Rielo two options — cross the border to the U.S. alone or wait for her husband, who was being detained.
Rodriguez encouraged his wife to go alone so their son could be born in the United States.
“You have to go. You are a strong woman, you can do it,” Rodriguez had told his wife.
So a scared but brave Rielo came into the country alone — 8 1/2 months pregnant with one dress, one pair of shoes, no money and unable to speak English. Her husband was held for 2 1/2 months in a detention center in Mexico and another 35 days in the U.S., waiting for his ICE …….