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      Colonia residents, illegal immigrants celebrate Thanksgiving

      Alvina Flores lives in the colonia Indian Hills East, located just north of Mercedes.

      She's originally from Queretaro, Mexico, and came to the United States illegally about 25 years ago.

      "After 25 years here, I still don TMt have security, Flores said. They've deported me back to Mexico, but I had to come back because my children and my grandchildren need me."

      Flores lives in humble conditions and said she can only find jobs working in the fields " her last job was as an onion picker. Still, she said the hard work, beats her past life in Mexico.

      "No one knows exactly what burdens everyone carries, a tearful Flores said. Politicians don TMt know the weight on our shoulders, they're not interested in listening, they worry about their position, their money and don TMt care about our human rights or all our potential."

      Pastor Steve Martinez and members of the Church of ACTS in Elsa, are hoping to help people like Flores.

      "We want to be a blessing to this community," Martinez said.

      From building a new roof or walls at the colonia homes, to providing food and clothes, the church's generosity is vast.

      Recently, the group delivered 25 turkey dinners to some of the families most in need - in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

      "They're human beings just like all of us, Martinez said. Some of these people - they're nice humble families and they need help. (For example), a kid dropped-out of school his freshman year because he had to work with his family, and two months ago, he went and got his GED. Now, he's going to college trying to get an education - he goes picks-up metal to pay for his classes."

      Juan Esteban Flores and his family came to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico more than three years ago, and also moved in to the Indian Hills East colonia.

      "My kids are American citizens, but even if we wanted to go to Mexico, we can TMt because of the violence, Flores said. Here, we do suffer a little bit, but at least there's help. In Mexico, if you don TMt work, you don TMt eat."

      Martinez said that in a country so divided by the immigration debate, he hopes the families they helped will take away a message of hope and unity.

      "(I hope they) always stay together as a family, because that's the main thing about Thanksgiving - to be together and be united as a family, Martinez said. God always loves us and loves them."