Valley churches helping asylum seekers

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- As thousands of Central American immigrants, seeking asylum, make their way towards the U.S. - Mexico border, A Valley church is stepping in to help migrant families who are already here.

Those families were dropped off by ICE, and many of them could be here for days, or even weeks until their case is heard.

ICE's "Alternative to Detention" program allows immigrants to remain in the United States while they await a hearing, but oftentimes, they have nowhere to go. That's why area churches are trying to step up and help.

"These people are caring, they're loving, they just want a better future," said Isaac Madrid with the Ministerios Casa de Oracion, which has seen a surge of asylum seekers.

Volunteers at the ministry have taken in 50 migrant families alone in just the past two days.

"It went from taking in 10 families to 20 to 30," said Madrid. "The most we've had is 60. That's about two to three per family. We're talking about 120 to 150 people here."

The church is working with ICE to take in the families who have crossed in to the country, and are awaiting court dates. Many of the families come in desperate and hungry.

"They bring them, we accept them, we have food ready for them," said Madrid. "At first, it was hard to get used to them because they haven't eaten for days.

Church organizers like Madrid originally only thought the partnership would last a couple of weeks, but donations have kept their doors open.

"They get to shower, they get food, and right now, we're prepping them with clothing and a place to sleep," said Madrid.

The services will continue as long as they are needed, and donations to help the families keep coming in. Volunteers continue to work to get the families connected with other family, and to arrive to their court dates on time.

"When you see these people they just want a better life, they just want to get home, they just want to be with their families," said Madrid. "The greatest prize is knowing that we're here to help, and what better way to do that is our own service."

Church leaders say many of the families are here for a few days before getting to a family member's or sponsors house, but the Thanksgiving week could keep some of them at the ministry longer.