Pope offers blessing to El Paso migrants, minors and victims of violence
One of the most anticipated moments of the day happened as Pope Francis walked up to the alter in Ciudad Juarez looking over the Rio Grande.
He faced the U.S. and personally offered a blessing to hundreds of peoples standing in El Paso, Texas.
CBS4 was at the levee when the pope arrived.
Pope Francis walked up a ramp elevated 65 feet above the U.S/Mexico border.
He faced the United States and blessed the hundreds of VIPs seated right across the Rio Grande.
"It's a good experience to me. I think it's important because I'm Catholic I think he comes to (be a) voice for the immigrants and it's very good for us," said Paula Gonzalez.
The crowd at the levee included more than 500 handpicked VIPs. They were chosen by the Catholic Diocese, and included migrants and victims of violence.
But the most vulnerable were the 75 unaccompanied minors who fled dangerous conditions in Mexico and risked their lives to find a better life in the U.S.
"The majority of the kids travel anywhere from 15 to 30 days at a time and some of them are walking through the desert," said Claudia Chavez with the unaccompanied minor shelter program.
All 550 VIPs had different stories of what they went through on their journey to the U.S.
"A lot of them report they are fleeing from gang violence, extortion," Chavez said.
And many, like Gabriela Castaneda were forced to come alone, at a young age.
"Who as a parent wants to see or know their child is going through the desert? Adults die. Imagine what could happen to a little child. But there's no way they can come legally," Castaneda said.
So Wednesday, Pope Francis' words rang true for all of the migrants, workers and victims of violence who ever felt marginalized because of their legal status.
"It's a message of tolerance of hope and understanding of basic human rights regardless of anyone's race, religion or country of origin just the fact that we are able to treat people with dignity," Chavez said.