Town hall panel answers questions about immigrant families separated at border

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About 150 people showed up for an immigration town hall meeting at First Congregational UCC Church in Phoenix Thursday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) About 150 people showed up for an immigration town hall meeting at First Congregational UCC Church in Phoenix Thursday. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions used Bible verses to defend the separation of families who illegally cross the border into the United States. (Source: CNN) Attorney General Jeff Sessions used Bible verses to defend the separation of families who illegally cross the border into the United States. (Source: CNN)
Often, immigrant families have plans in place to stay with friends or relatives in the U.S., but young children on their own aren’t able to explain those plans when they’re without their parents in immigrant shelters. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Often, immigrant families have plans in place to stay with friends or relatives in the U.S., but young children on their own aren’t able to explain those plans when they’re without their parents in immigrant shelters. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The town hall is a push for people to contact Homeland Security to express their opinions on the separation of families who are often escaping violence or persecution. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The town hall is a push for people to contact Homeland Security to express their opinions on the separation of families who are often escaping violence or persecution. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX -

People concerned about immigrant children being separated from their families gathered for a town hall Thursday to learn more about what exactly is happening at the border.

Unlike a lot of town halls, this one had no elected officials. It was put together by an advocacy group, Phoenix Restoration Project, that wanted to help people better understand the current immigration policies.

In a week where Attorney General Jeff Sessions even used Bible verses to defend the separation of families who illegally cross the border into the United States, a lot of people in Arizona want to know more about what happens to the children.

"I think this is a large and a huge problem happening for a long time now and I think just now people are starting to wake up," concerned mother Veronica Monge said.

[RELATED: Trump admin drops asylum protections for domestic violence victims]

Phoenix Restoration Project had been planning Thursday’s town hall meeting at First Congregational UCC Church a couple weeks before Session’s controversial remarks.

"This raises a lot of public alarm and we find that there's a lot of public concern but there is also a lot of misinformation going around,” organizer Leah Sarat said.

The group brought together a panel of immigration attorneys and other experts. They answered questions and explained how asylum seekers are being told there’s no room for them in the U.S. With nowhere else to go, the immigrants often choose to enter illegally. Then the kids get separated from their parents, who are in the custody of Homeland Security. Apparently, there's no age limit for family separation.

[RELATED: The massive asylum changes Jeff Sessions tucked into the footnotes]

"The youngest child that we’ve come in contact with, just the Florence Project here in Arizona, is 5 months," immigration attorney Patrick Helling said to gasps from the crowd.

Often, immigrant families have plans in place to stay with friends or relatives in the U.S., but young children on their own aren’t able to explain those plans when they’re without their parents in immigrant shelters.

“There’s usually or maybe always an indefinite timeline so the kids won’t know – the parents won’t know as well – when they might be unified,” said Jessica Brown with the Florence Project.

The town hall is a push for people to contact Homeland Security to express their opinions on the separation of families who are often escaping violence or persecution. Phoenix Restoration Project has a rally coming up this weekend on Father’s Day. They’ll be marching here to the ICE field office to protest.

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