by Connie Larkman
A United Church of Christ congregation in Phoenix that provides a safe space for migrants seeking asylum in the United States has been extremely busy since Monday, offering an extravagant welcome to more than 100 people. Busloads of immigrant families who have been released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are routinely dropped off at Shadow Rock UCC for a meal, clothing, supplies and a place to stay while they try to connect with relatives and friends around the country.
“Hospitality is one of the ideals we hold as people of conscience in this country,” said the Rev. Ken Heintzelman, Shadow Rock pastor.
Scores of immigrants waiting to have their cases heard have come through Shadow Rock, bussed in by ICE, since 2016 — but never more than a few dozen at a time. And not with a lot of advance notice.
“We got a call on Friday that they wanted us to take 100 people,” said Abeth Spencer, the church’s director of communications. “We had a weekend to get organized before they arrived Monday night, and they all stay here until we take them to the Greyhound Station.”