Local churches feeling the strain, as they host more and more migrants for ICE

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., but since there are so many people and not enough space, ICE works with small local churches to help ease the burden.

Now, some of those churches are being overwhelmed. Nueva Esperanza, located near Southern and Gilbert in Mesa, is one of those small churches, filled to bursting with busloads of asylum seekers, over and over, since October. The church, as well as others like it, would like more big congregations to pitch in, but for the most part, that's not happening.

Dozens of asylum seekers, many of them women and children, say they are victims of persecution in the Central American countries of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. ICE cannot accommodate them all, and works with small evangelical churches, mostly latino ones, to give folks a place to stay for a couple days, before they go on to stay with loved ones around the country, while they await rulings in their asylum cases.

Many more are on the way.

"We have more coming in this Friday," said volunteer Victoria Irivarren. "100 people, and then ICE, another bus this week or two buses next week. We do not know yet."

The church stockpiles clothes and shoes, but there isn't enough to go around. Shoes up to men's size nine, little kids' shoes, and shoelaces are a critical need.

"Thus far, we have these shoes," said Irivarren. "Need more walking shoes. Lots of kids have no shoes or worn out shoes."

Some larger churches are helping out, like nearby Central Christian Church in Mesa, but many more churches and other charitable organizations are not involved in this effort, so Nueva Esperanza and other small churches need your help.

St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church collection efforts for refugee community
Week of 12/2 - Diapers and baby wipes
Week of 12/9 - Underwear and socks
Week of 12/16 - Dental and personal hygiene items
Week of 12/23 - Backpacks and bedding
Church address:
975 E. Warner Road
Tempe, AZ 85284

Nueva Esperanza Church
1818 E. Southern, Mesa

Monetary Donations for Ayuda Humanitaria
Wells Fargo Bank, account number 5856940050
Donations are tax-deductible, according to officials