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Posada tradition brings comfort to asylum seekers waiting to cross into El Paso from Juarez

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- There are more than 100 asylum seekers camping on the streets of Juarez waiting to come into the U.S. through El Paso's Santa Fe port of entry.

With the holidays upon us one group is helping bring a little comfort for the migrants through prayer and the tradition of the Posada. 

Asylum seekers said it's difficult being thousands of miles away from the comfort of their homes and now living on the streets for weeks, but they say this celebration of the Posada helps keep their spirits up.  

During the holidays, hundreds of thousands of motorists and pedestrians cross ports of entry to be with their families. For those seeking asylum, they stay in makeshift camps on the streets of Juarez.

One asylum seeker named Gabriela said it's a complete life change when your used to living in the comfort of your own home.

"The connection between the holy family that was seeking welcome on a cold night and these families that are seeking asylum on a cold night is very much in our hearts tonight," said Bishop Michael Hunn of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Hunn said the religious observance of the Posada in which Mary and Joseph searched for shelter before the birth of Jesus almost parallels the journey of the migrants.

"The true meaning of Christmas is God extending hospitality to humane beings," Hunn said.

The group and asylum seekers prayed, sang and ate pizza. 

Gabriela told ABC-7 it was beautiful because the kids were playing and it was a break from the day to day struggle.

"It was a time of joy which I hope brought remembrance of Christmas and home and the joy full celebration of Feliz Navidad to people who are in great stress and great need," Hunn said.

Hunn spoke on how he felt about the recent changes in immigration policies that now keep asylum seekers in Mexico.

"I believe very much that we need to protect citizens on both sides from drug traffikers, from those involved in the sex trade, there needs to be a strong law enforcement here but we don't need to be treating families with children as if they are drug dealers and criminals," Hunn said.

The administration recently released a warning for U.S. travelers going into Mexico because of dangers in the region.

Asylum seekers like Gabriela being held in Mexico, said they feel the policies are a discrimination.

El Paso / News / Top Stories / Video

Jerry Najera

Jerry Najera is an ABC-7 reporter/photographer.

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