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Phoenix Pastor opens church to host immigrant families released by ICE

Posted at 10:11 PM, Nov 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 09:18:14-05

Bottles of water, bags of clothes and foldout tables are set up and ready at a Phoenix church awaiting the next busload of asylum-seeking families released by ICE.

Pastor Angel Campos at Monte Vista Cross-Cultural Church in Phoenix confirmed his church is one of the Valley locations temporarily housing families upon their release from ICE. 

"They leave their homes; they leave everything," Campos said. "They say that their belongings mean nothing without their lives."

Back in October, ICE officials announced they were releasing an increased number of families, amid a surge of them showing up at the border and a limit to how long they can detain families. 

"You hear the stories; you hear the pain," Campos said. 

An unknown number of Valley churches are temporarily taking in the families upon their release from ICE as they work to connect with other relatives across the country. The families are equipped with ankle monitors and still have to go through the immigration court process.

Statistics show the number of "family units" that are apprehended along the Southwest border has surged in recent months. 

Campos told ABC15 he reached out to ICE to offer up his church to help with this process. He says he is surprised by how many people have shown up in buses, estimating more than 800 people have come through his church since early October, with the most recent group of people arriving this past Thursday. 

Campos said nearly everyone from that group has since left the church. 

"We have to be strong, not to fall in love with them so much that it hurts you when they leave," Campos said. 

Campos told ABC15 donations, including clothes and bottled water, are welcome.