Phoenix Church Steps In To Help Dozens Of Recently Released Immigrant Families

Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2018 - 11:10pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 2:21pm
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Activists and faith leaders across Arizona are taking in large numbers of undocumented immigrant families who’ve been released by federal authorities, and a Phoenix church known for giving people sanctuary is among them.

A group of young girls raced each other around the parking lot at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ. The kids were among roughly 50 undocumented immigrant families who are being fed, clothed and sheltered at the house of worship.

In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released hundreds of families.

After spending time in detention, Gerardo Alvarez said grapes have been his favorite food at Shadow Rock.

“I feel happy,” Alvarez, who is from Guatemala, said in Spanish. “I’ve been thinking; good people do exist.”

Shadow Rock has provided hospitality to immigrants seeking asylum for a couple of years, said Rev. Ken Heintzelman, senior minister at the church.

“We’ve never done it to this scale before, and we just organized ourselves in a little bit different way,” he said.

Church volunteers are also helping the families catch buses to other parts of the country, where they will live with relatives while their immigration cases go forward.

Alvarez will soon head for New York City with his teenage son.

“I hope he learns a good skill and has a better future,” Alvarez said in Spanish.

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