A Honduran women and her four kids who illegally crossed the Rio Grande into Texas last March and is now living in the United States speaks out for the first time about her journey to freedom and hopefully eventually citizenship.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com Tania Molina, 38, who is from Le Ceba, Honduras recounts how she made the 1,000-mile, 18-day arduous journey crossing the border into McAllen, Texas with her four children ages 8 to 15 years old.
Molina said she left her native country, because 'Honduras is getting more and more dangerous to live there. It's so bad in some places you can't even walk outside your house at night. And the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs start recruiting young boys in their early teens to become members and sell their drugs and run guns.'
'As a parent I want my children to have a better life. Any parent wants their children to have a better life. If we stayed in Honduras my young boys may be forced to join a gang, and I don't even want to think about what could happen to my 10-year-old daughter.
'It's was a tough miserable journey coming to America, but I would do it all over again without even thinking about it, any mother would,' continued Tania.
Tania Molina, 38, who is from Le Ceba, Honduras, tells DailyMail.com how she made the 1,000 mile, 18-day arduous journey to McAllen, Texas
Molina traveled to the U.S with her four children ages 8 to 15 years old. 'It's was a tough miserable journey coming to America, but I would do it all over again without even thinking about it, any mother would'
Molina said she left Honduras on March 1st and crossed the Rio Grande under the cover of darkness on March 18th, walking for hours until they found a Border Patrol agent who took them to a processing center. The family is pictured reunited after the trek
Molina said she left Honduras on March 1st and crossed the Rio Grande under the cover of darkness on March 18th, walking for hours until they found a Border Patrol agent who took them to a processing center.
Molina said her escape from Honduras to the United States was five years in the making. Her husband Adan Guerra had immigrated to the United States along with their eldest son in 2016.
During this time Adan and other family members were sending Molina money to live and pay for rent, food and saving for their long trek to the US.
Molina said she had to pay a guide $4K each or $20K total for her and her four children's passage to the United States - a hefty amount where the per capita income is about $2,400 U.S. dollars per year.
'It took several years to save up the money for me and my children to come to the United States,' she said.
Molina said it wasn't difficult to find a 'guide' as they are referred. 'You know somebody who knows somebody in Mexico that you can hire as a guide, you agree on a price and then begin your trip.'
Payment is made via wire transfer during various legs of the journey, not all at once, she said, 'it cost $1K US each to cross the border from Guatemala into Mexico. '
When the payment was due for each leg of the journey, Molina said the 'guide' would call the person who had the money on her end and give instructions on who, how, where and when to wire the money via Western Union. Each wire transfer along their leg of the trip was to a different person and city, the same person wasn't paid twice.
Molina said the guides were also changing out their cell phones every few days- using burner ones. During her trip she had at least 4 different guides. 'Most of the guides were young males but surprisingly there were a few females. Some of them were nice, but most of them were pretty militant to deal with. They didn't want to make small talk or talk about any personal. It was all business, at times I felt like we were treating us like animals, not human beings.'
She said there was never any mention of the cartel being involved in her journey but wouldn't be surprised if they were. 'They control most of Mexico so I'm sure the cartel was either directly or indirectly involved, but I never saw any evidence of it.'
Footage from the ride to the U.S. shows a packed boat of migrants - including young children - making their was to America
A packed boat shows migrants wearing masked as they travel to the U.S.
The Molina family provided this picture of two of Molina's sons on their journey to the U.S.
Before Molina left the detention facility a GPS tracking device was put on her ankle and she has to check in with US immigration every month
Molina said at times she was frightened during the journey because 'it was an unknown, putting our life into the hands of these guides, but the violence and turmoil we were facing in Honduras made it worthwhile. '
She said there wasn't any sexual violence or physical threats against their lives, like that has been reported in the past.
Traveling conditions were at times 'ok' but mostly subpar. About 25 immigrants were crammed into a private small bus that usually carries about 10 people and they would drive for hours without stopping. The bus was filled with immigrants from other Central American countries. Tania said some of them paid as much as $11K US each to cross the border.
She said during her 18 day journey she only spent two nights in hotel, and when she did they slept on the floor because they would put about 10 people into each room.
She can only remember a few days where they were actually fed a decent meal, one time she said they had pizza and another day they had some burritos, but mostly they were given crackers, cookies and candies to eat and water to drink.
Molina said that they mostly traveled by the small bus. When they encountered several federal police roadblocks on the way, most of time they were just waved by without them checking out the passengers on the bus.
But there were times the small bus had to take other alternate routes heading toward the border.
'We went on small dusty non paved dirt roads for a few several days. When we arrived in the northern Mexico area we had to walk for a few days through the desert, we were told to avoid detection by the Federal Police.'
Molina said for three nights her and her children had to sleep on the desert ground with nothing more than a plastic sheet covering them from the wind and cold.
'It was freezing at night in the desert, we were scared, it was pitch black outside and we couldn't see a thing but we heard all sorts of animal noises.'
Then there were several days Molina and her children spent the night in the back room of a local bodega, sleeping on the floor.
Molina and her children spent a total of eight days in a detention facility before her husband sent them bus tickets to travel from San Antonio to Louisiana
Molina said her escape from Honduras to the United States was five years in the making. Her husband Adan Guerra had immigrated to the United States along with their eldest son in 2016
At 4AM when Molina got off the bus, it was the first time she had seen her husband of 22-years and eldest son, face to face in almost five years
She said they were lucky if they were able to shower or bath twice a week. 'Like I said at times we were treated like human cargo, which we were.'
Another night while in Monterrey, Mexico Molina and her children slept under a bridge in the cold without a blanket, huddling together for warmth.
While leaving Monterrey the next morning Molina said she experienced something every mother fears, being separated from her children.
'If we stayed in Honduras my young boys may be forced to join a gang, and I don't even want to think about what could happen to my 10-year-old daughter,' she said. Her husband and daughter are pictured together
'The guides told me last minute there was no room for him and they promised me that he was going to be on the next bus. The bus was so crowded I really didn't realize he wasn't on the bus until they were about ready to shut the door. I pleaded with the guides to let him on but they refused, and just drove away.
'I was sickened by what just happened but I had to stay strong for my other kids. We arrived at a border town, Reynosa, our final destination before we crossed over into the United States. I begged the guides for us to wait a few days until my son could be located, but he never showed up.
'The guides assured us that he was OK, and prior to paying the final payment for our trip, they let us talk to him by phone. He was crying and scared. Once again the guides promised us that he was OK and they were going to bring him across the border.
'Later that night we were told by the guides they were going to be taken across the Rio Grande in an inflatable raft at 10:30PM.'
Molina and three of her kids were loaded up on a raft and shuttled across the river which was about 100 yards wide, the trip took less than 10 minutes. They were dropped off on the US side near McAllen, TX.
Molina said she should have been happy finally completing her journey and making it into the United States, but she wasn't she still had no idea when she was going to see him again.
Before the guides dropped Molina and her children off on the US side of the border, they were told the Border Patrol would be on the other side and ready to pick them up to take them in for processing. But when they got to the US side, there was no Border Patrol to meet them. So Molina and a few others decided they were going to walk on the trails on the US side hoping to run into the Border Patrol. She said they walked until 4AM until they were able to locate a Border Patrol vehicle and flagged them down.
'The Border Patrol agents were nice and after we arrived at the processing center, I told one of them about my missing son, I gave them information on him.'
While at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, Molina and her children were given medical check-ups, making sure they didn't have COVID or tuberculosis. They were able to shower and given fresh clothing. 'We only brought 3 suitcases for clothing and personal belongings for 5 people on our trip,' said Molina.
They spent several more days at the center when finally she received the good news, her son had made it across the border safely and was in border patrol custody - they were going to be reunited.
Molina said, 'We spent a total of 8 days in the detention facility, then my husband sent bus tickets for all of us to make the overnight journey from San Antonio, Texas to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.'
Before she left the facility a GPS tracking device was put on her ankle and she has to check in with U.S. immigration every month.
The Molina family are pictured reunited after the 1,000 mile trek from Honduras to the U.S. Adan and other family members were sending Molina money to live and pay rent, food and saving for their long trek to the US.
At 4am Molina got off the bus, it was the first time she had seen her husband of 22-years and eldest son, face to face in almost five years.
'We were finally together as a family, it took five years for it to happened and I thank God and the United States for giving us this opportunity.'
Said Molina, 'I just want to be free and for my children to be given a chance. People in America don't realize how fortunate they are to be born in a free country. I wish we didn't have to leave Honduras in order to give my family a safer and better life, but we had to. '
Molina added, that she hasn't been given any money by the US Government to live on nor any other assistance, they are supported by friends and family while they go through the immigration process.
She is a big fan of President Biden, 'I think he is a kind, humane man that cares about family.' But added that she believes she and her kids would have been deported under President Trump.
Since taking office President Biden has refused to call it a 'crisis' at the southern border in spite of record number of immigrant crossings. In April more than 178,000 immigrants were stopped at the southwest border, 21-year high in monthly apprehensions, in March 2021 the southwest border saw almost 174,000 immigrant crossings.
'I just want a chance for my family to contribute to the United States, we will not be a burden to the tax payer. We want to work and pay our share of taxes, and do our part as society. I want my children to be safe, I want what any mother wants for her children.
'We want the American dream and we are willing to work hard for it.'