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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just over a day ago 12 migrants and a pint-sized dog were still on the high seas, risking their lives, for six days with no food left.

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Now, they are beginning the rest of their lives in the land of the free.

The miraculous moment of landing their makeshift sailboat on Miami Beach was months in the making…and after years of dreaming.

“I don’t have anything against my country. We came here because of the economic problems,” said Pedro Campos de Armas in Spanish.

Campos de Armas and his friends, all from the same neighborhood in Cuba, knew they would risk their lives to begin new ones in the United States.

They pieced together the small boat- and ran into trouble when someone stole it…twice.

“They stole it again..then they called us and said they wanted to sell the boat. We bought it back. That boat was meant for us,” they told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

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They say they were even jailed for a few days in Cuba for trying to leave…before finally pooling their money to buy supplies and set out- hoping to join the family members awaiting them in Florida. They finally got their chance Tuesday night.

Yara Diaz dreamed of the moment she would be able to hold on tightly to her brother again.

“I am happy. Very very very happy,” she told Zea.

Oliday Garcia, rushed into her awaiting truck with her father, eager to start fresh in the States. Seeing her was sweet relief for her dad, Juan Carlos Garcia…who landed on Hollywood Beach just a few months ago.

“I was worried. There was bad weather but she’s out of danger now,” he said in Spanish.

Even the little pup is living large after the journey…cared for overnight by a Good Samaritan until her owner comes to get her.

It was a journey that brought the friends together- and changed their lives. Much to the delight of those there to greet them on the warm South Florida sands.

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A spokesman for U.S. Customs says all 12 migrants have received their legal documents. Many of them told Zea their focus now is on finding work and sending money back to their loved ones still on the island.