Waiting for immigration paperwork can take hours or weeks standing in line at the U.S.-Mexico border. Some families journey up to a month before reaching the processing station, not knowing if they will be turned away. United Methodist Maritza Velazquez-Corta, an immigrant herself, brings food, blankets and hope to those who are waiting.
(Locator: Nogales, Mexico)
(Voice of Maritza Velazquez-Cota) "She is so sad because she leave her parents there and her family, her brothers and sisters."
Maritza Velazquez-Cota, El Mesias Iglesia United Methodist Church: "I'm telling them that I'm from the United States, but there are some people that love them. And they need that love. They need the hug of God."
Maritza Velazquez-Cota, an immigrant herself, serves 2-3 times a week at this shelter on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Maritza Velazquez-Cota: "I think I have the gift. If someone call me and tell me, 'Maritza, can you help me with this or that?' They just can tell me what they need and I don't know how, but I get it. I think that's from God. I'm not important. I'm not famous here in Nogales but I know when you ask me for a favor for something I know how to get it."
(Maritza asks a question in Spanish and says) "One month traveling through here, to get here."
Maritza Velazquez-Cota "I have seen there in the border from Russia, Haiti, and from Acapulco, Guerrera, that's Mexico too, and Guatemala. That's the most people that is coming from."
Maritza and Raul: "Buenos dias. Buenos dias."
Some families have traveled with smugglers; up to a month with small children; under dangerous conditions, risking robbery and violence at every turn. The journey is treacherous and exhausting.
(Maritza asks the ages of some boys who walked up) "Sixteen, everyone is 16-years-old here."
(Speaks Spanish to the boys) "They have to be in the gang. If not, they have to be killed."
Maritza and her husband Pastor Raul Velazquez bring food, hygiene items and blankets from their United Methodist church in Nogales, Arizona.
Maritza Velazquez-Cota: "It's not that I just can take stuff or food. It's the food of God that I would love to take them. That hug, that love that God already give it to me. I want to share it with them and it's a privilege serving God in this way. I love it."
Raul and Maritza Velazquez pastor El Mesias United Methodist Church in Nogales, Arizona.
The people of the United Methodist Church have a long history of welcoming immigrants coming to America. Alma Mathews helped found a home for women near Ellis Island in New York and Kathryn Maurer was an "angel' to Asian immigrants coming to Angel Island near San Francisco. Learn more.