Yunier García Duarte sitting

Miami Herald- More than 25,000 people have asked the U.S. government on social media to allow a young Cuban stowaway who arrived in Miami on Thursday in the cargo area of an airplane to stay.

“I risked my life. I hope they let me stay. … If they deport me, I will be tortured. … I came here because it is a country of human rights,” Yunier García Duarte told Telemundo 51.

García said the trip was very difficult and he could barely breathe in the cargo hold of the plane. The stowaway had worked carrying luggage at José Martí Airport in Havana. El Nuevo Herald was able to confirm that Cuba’s Interior Ministry is investigating how García was able to leave.

Miami immigration attorney Wilfredo Allen is representing García, who told authorities he feared he would be deported to the island.

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“I spoke with García Duarte’s family on Friday and Saturday. I also spoke with him that same weekend. I have agreed to be his lawyer and I am hopeful that my client will be able to win this case of political asylum,” Allen told el Nuevo Herald.

“The first thing we are going to do is ask for an interview to demonstrate ‘credible fear of persecution’ as quickly as possible. After that interview has passed, we will request parole,” added Allen, who said he is preparing a case for political asylum.

The 26-year-old has been transferred to the Krome Detention Center.

García has had massive support in social networks and from prominent Cuban Americans.

A campaign on the platform gathered more than 25,000 signatures in 72 hours asking the U.S. government to give García political asylum.

“Those of us who know the sad Cuban reality know that if they deport him, he will be directly sent to serve a long sentence in the dungeons of the Castro dictatorship. Therefore, I join the call to immigration authorities that he be granted a parole,” Cuban exile singer Willy Chirino posted on Facebook.

Juan Antonio Blanco, director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, also expressed his support for the young stowaway.

“He is a young man who comes from Cuba. In a democratic system like ours we should have the right to be heard,” he said.

García’s family in Cuba says his departure caught them by surprise.

“He had not told us anything. … I think it was a last-minute decision,” said Yudeysi García, Yunier’s sister, from Havana.

More than a dozen Cubans have escaped the island as stowaways in airplanes, although most have died in the attempt. The official Cuban press has not mentioned García’s trip.