Mexican immigrant finds way to Minnesota

Sunday, December 26, 2004

MANKATO, Minn. -- Donors bought a bus ticket and gave traveling money to a man who suffered a series of misadventures after illegally crossing the Mexican border.

But what probably just needed a good map.

Juan Rivera, 46, left his home in Juarez, Mexico, last week. He slipped into El Paso, Texas, and went to Riverside, Calif., to look for a temporary job.

When he couldn't find work, he asked someone which train headed back to El Paso.

But the train went to the wrong city.

So he got on another train, then another.

Somehow he ended up in Mankato in the middle of the night, according to Blue Earth County Sheriff Brad Peterson, who heard Rivera's story through an interpreter.

Wearing only jeans and three shirts, Rivera walked to a convenience store and crawled into a trash bin to stay warm. But at about 5:30 a.m. Monday, a garbage truck dumped the contents of the trash bin, including Rivera, into the truck.

When the truck got to its next stop, Rivera crawled out the back and the driver called 911.

He was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries.

Although he entered the country illegally, Peterson said the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no interest in him.

Having broken no local laws, and considering his harrowing experience, Peterson told Rivera he was free to go.

Rivera was brought to the Mankato Salvation Army, where he had a good meal and slept in a warm bed, said Elaine Schoeneberger of the Salvation Army.

"He gave me a hug before he left on the bus."

Salvation Army Capt. Bill Mealy made sure the driver knew where he was headed.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: