Jose Jimenez, a Mexican mechanic, is now doing odd jobs in an American town after escaping a violent northern Mexican city where drug traffickers threatened to kill him when he refused to build secret compartments in tractor trailers to hide U.S.-bound drug shipments.
He's hoping the U.S. immigration system can keep him alive -- and he's not alone.
He is one of a growing number of Mexicans receiving asylum in the United States, where until recently most Mexican immigrants had sought work permits. But the escalating drug war violence south of the border over the last four years has prompted immigration judges and federal asylum officers to approve more Mexican asylum petitions.
"I definitely feel safer now," Jiménez said. "But I'm still nervous. These criminals have resources and contacts everywhere."
Jiménez, 49, is one of the first Mexican refugees to share his story. He is also the first with a known South Florida connection.
"Mexico has become the single most dangerous country in Latin America," said Jiménez's lawyer, Wilfredo Allen, a prominent Miami immigration attorney.
A Mexican government official, who did not want to be named, dismissed Allen's assertion, saying violence in Mexico is affecting a limited number of areas.
To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.