Phoenix, Arizona (KPHO/KTVK) — Friday afternoon, ICE dropped off more migrants in the Valley, sending 100 to the Monte Vista Baptist Church in Phoenix.
Many have fled violence and poverty in Central America and Mexico, and are seeking asylum in the United States.
One woman who did not want to be identified says she left Mexico with her teenage sons to escape the gangs in her hometown.
“My two kids had received threats because they wanted my kids to work for them. If they don’t work for them then they’re seen as an enemy. Then they’ll be kidnapped and disappear,” she said in Spanish.
They traveled 16 days to claim asylum in the U.S., surrendering themselves at a port of entry.
Once in custody, the adults are processed, given ankle monitors and a future court date, then released to the churches.
“I honestly feel safe here,” she said.
At Monte Vista church, they were given a meal, a change of clothes and basic medical attention. They are then sent home with local host families for the night, before being taken to catch their next bus or plane to reconnect with family members already in the States.
But this act of charity has started to wear on the churches.
Since October, the network of nearly 20 churches has taken in 10,000 people like her. And they are now nearly full and starting to feel the strain.
On Thursday night, ICE had to drop dozens of migrant families off at the Phoenix Greyhound bus station when no churches were available to assist.
“We’ve been talking to immigration and telling them we’re willing to help but something’s going to happen because they’re to the limit in their holding facilities, they have to release the families, we are helping but then it’s going to get to a point where we have to find some solution to this,” said Pastor Israel Camacho.
Camacho says he hopes more churches will step up to help.
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