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Churches that assist immigrants may soon get the help they've been hoping for

Chicago 'sanctuary church' shelters immigrants, endures hate speech
Posted at 6:10 PM, Jun 27, 2019

PHOENIX — Since mid-December Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released 38,000 immigrant families throughout the Phoenix area.

A group of churches have handled most of the people. Offering them food, shelter, clothing and help reaching their destinations throughout the United States. For months, the churches have asked the cities, the county and the state for help.

On Tuesday, that request may be granted.

"I think the city will be receptive. They should be because this group is taking a real burden off of the city," said Paul Gilbert, a zoning attorney representing the International Rescue Committee. The group will ask the City of Phoenix Zoning Commission on July 2 to grant a use permit to IRC.

RELATED: Valley churches feeling the strain of caring for migrants released by ICE

The permit will allow the organization to convert a mothballed school, Ann Ott Elementary in the Phoenix Elementary School District, into a boarding house.

Once open, the school will be able to handle 300 people. St. Vincent DePaul will provide meals. Ann Ott Elementary lies directly under the approach and departure paths to Sky Harbor. The school has been closed since 2007.

The City is purchasing properties in the neighborhood in advance of expanding the Sky Harbor Business Center, a sparsely populated area with plenty of room and a fenced in perimeter.

"We're hoping to have the building code compliance all in order by July 2," Gilbert said. "If we get that done we intend to occupy the premises July 3."