TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay father has waited years to bring his daughter to the United States. The 16-year-old girl had been in Cuba, without any family, after losing both her mother and grandmother.

Now she is finally able to call Tampa her new home thanks to the help of 8 On Your Side’s Spanish language news team Noticias Tampa Hoy. The long-awaited day finally arrived Wednesday, after two years of tireless efforts.

“…Family, friends, we are already here in Havana, Thank God (…) See you soon” (…) “Heading to Tampa. A kiss and see you later,” Francis and Alejandra Rodríguez said, before returning to Tampa together.

Alejandra’s family started working to bring her home after the death of her mother and grandmother in Cuba. The two women died just months apart. Her father, Francis contacted Noticias Tampa Hoy to ask for help bringing her home to Tampa.

“She was left alone in Cuba,” Francis said. “Because of that, I was in a hurry to get her to join me.”

Tampa Hoy first shared the family’s story in October, after contacting immigration lawyers and authorities. A month later, Francis invited us to his home, for a big surprise on Christmas.

“The day has arrived. Thank God on January 12, 2023, my daughter has an interview,” Rodríguez said. The interview was scheduled to have Alejandra speak with immigration officials, part of a process to potentially bring her to the United States.

Even with the interview, there was another challenge ahead. Francis had to travel to Cuba at the beginning of January to meet his daughter, and a United States immigration officer. He spoke with us from Havana.

“May God put the wise words on my lips so that I can express myself there and fight once again for my daughter,” Francis said. 

A week later his dream came true at Tampa International Airport. Family, friends, and Eight On Your Side waited patiently for their arrival and return from Cuba.

“It’s really hard to believe but, I have to see it,” Brian Perez Garcia, Alejandra´s cousin said. “…and give her a hug so I can believe it.”

Now, a new chapter can begin after all of the suffering.

“It has been really hard for her but, right now is the moment to give her a long hug,” Perez said.  

Upon arriving, they had tears of joy, having overcome the greatest challenge of their lives.

“I’m happy – I’m more than happy – now I have all my family here together – my new goal is help her to get her studies and the life that she deserve,” Francis said. It was a journey that will never be forgotten.

He thanked Noticias Tampa Hoy’s Vladimir Kislinger for help bringing his daughter to Tampa.

“Thank you all for everything you have done. I’ll be grateful forever. I still cannot believe I’m here, I just don’t know, I am so excited right now Vladimir, with all my heart thank you. I love you all so much.” 

This is the second reunification of Cuban families that 8 On Your Side and Noticias Tampa Hoy has helped with. To our Cuban community, Noticias Tampa Hoy remains committed to you and the entire Hispanic community in the Tampa Bay area.