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Second group of immigrant families released by ICE in Phoenix

PHOENIX — A second group of the more than 400 immigrants seeking asylum in Arizona has arrived in Phoenix.

Dozens of adults and children were dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix via buses around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

On Monday, close to 100 immigrants were dropped off at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ.

ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe issued a statement on the release of the families on Monday.

“After decades of inaction by Congress, the government has remained severely constrained in its ability to detain and promptly remove families that have no legal basis to remain in the United States,” O’Keefe said in the statement.

O’Keefe said the organization began to release family units that are in danger of being held past time allotted based on judicial decisions interpreting the Flores Settlement Agreement.

Families typically undergo interviews confirming coordinates and final destinations throughout the country, but are not required to do so.

Due to time and resource limitations, some of the families have started to be released in Arizona before final plans could be discussed and accommodated. These families are being released to the coalition organizations.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey praised the efforts of the churches on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

“Of course we’re communicating with the federal government, homeland security,” Ducey said. “Thank goodness for our non-profit community, the NGO’s (Non-governmental organization), the faith-based community. These are people that are going to go through the process with the federal government as they seek asylum.

“But some of these organizations are going to help them find shelter and places to live. This is part of the surge of activity that’s happened at the border.”

Last year, 22,491 refugees were allowed into the U.S., the lowest number since a modern resettlement system was passed into law by Congress in 1980.

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