UMCOR blankets were taken to the Holding Institute  as an offering of support for the arrival of Cuban migrants who are on hold in Nuevo Laredo and various parts of Mexico as a result of the January 12th change in policy regarding Cubans seeking asylum in the U.S. - known as “dry foot – wet foot” .
A truck in transit from Las Vegas to Laredo carrying donations  collected by the Cuban American communities in the Southwest U.S. contacted media outlets in Laredo. The volunteers were looking for assistance in getting the cargo across the border to Nuevo Laredo, where many Cuban immigrants are being held. That news story led them to the Holding Institute. Since then, response has broadened. Additional supplies arrived from Houston and more supplies are expected to arrive this week from Oklahoma and Miami.
Cuban American restaurant entrepreneur Sergio Perez continues to generate national response and support from the Cuban American community, the United Methodist Church and the Methodist Church of Mexico are engaged in conversations on how best to respond. The work of the Methodist Border Friendship Commission  is happening in real time. The Commission is defined as the churches of the Rio Texas Conference and the Eastern Conference of the Methodist Church of Mexico – located essentially within 25 miles on each side of the U.S. / Mexico border.
As the Methodist Churches in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo respond through receiving, sorting, and delivering relief supplies to the need-at-hand; First United Methodist Church, Laredo is coordinating logistics with the nearby Baptist church in providing daily meals and whatever assistance is needed. There is consideration of Connecting with the Mexican legal community to offer insight to this situation because the Cuban refugees are limited in the time they may stay in Mexico. The Cuban immigrants are not being allowed entry into the U.S. prior to the policy change. At some point, they may be facing possible deportation back to Cuba. If that may be the case, many expressed fears that they face even hardships in Cuba upon their return , , & .
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
This response effort is fluid. As more supplies arrive to FUMC, Laredo, they are working to organize storage in the basement of the church as well as storage units in the church’s parking lot. At the moment, the following support is needed over the next 30 days.
- Volunteer Teams are needed to help organize the donations received in preparation to take donations over to Nuevo Laredo trip-by-trip.
- A long-term volunteer(s) is needed now for the month of February to serve as a logistics coordinator at FUMC, Laredo. The church has RV connections on the premises if that is helpful to potential volunteers. This could be a response of long-term volunteers who may be able to stay for the month or a series of volunteers staying weekly.
- PRAY for a just resolution to this situation and pray for all who wait upon the Lord. PRAY for your part in this ministry along with the other volunteers.
- GIVE MONEY to First UMC, Laredo “Finding A Way” Designated Account to help with storage, utilities, cash for food and hygiene items that must be purchased, detergent, fuel for transporting hot meals, calling cards, labor, etc.
NOTE: Clothes or bedding is not needed those are only allowed in small personal use amounts and must be new. It is asked that anyone crossing aid over to Nuevo Laredo should be coordinated through the Holding Institute.
To offer and coordinate your support, contact Rev. Paul Harris at 956.436.4255 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by Abel Vega, Director of Outreach Vitality, Mission Vitality Center, Rio Texas Conference, United Methodist Church