For millions of immigrants attempting to build a new life in the United States, Lady Liberty became a symbol of hope. Now, in San Diego, a nonprofit to build something similar to welcome immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border. Modeled after the State of Liberty, “Welcome the Stranger” will feature a 40-foot tall monument of the Virgin Mary.

“It will stand as a beacon of hope and encouragement for people engaged in the struggle of the migrant,” said Jim Bliesner, the artist, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The statue will eventually be housed on the parking lot of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church’s parking lot. The project is the brainchild of San Diego Organizing Project, a nonprofit that has already received $1 million from the California Endowment. It has launched an online campaign to raise money for the remaining $1 million. The group hopes to have the statue built by early 2019.

The idea for the Virgin Mary monument arose about a year ago. Bliesner met with many people from the community and heard their stories. “Most of the inspiration came from listening to members of the congregation and the community about how emotional this subject is. People were crying, people were telling their stories,” Bliesner said. “I couldn’t help but take that away as the primary element in creating the piece.”

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