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Dallas nonprofits prepare to help migrants bussed from El Paso

Migrants in El Paso .JPG
Julian Aguilar
/
The Texas Newsroom
Migrants huddle outside a bus station in El Paso. Several are part of groups that recently crossed into Texas and now have no place to go after being released by federal officials.

The Trump-era Title 42 immigration policy will not expire on Wednesday as expected, but El Paso will still bus migrants to cities including Dallas in as it tries to manage an influx of asylum seekers.

Faith leaders and volunteers are preparing to welcome migrants to Dallas from El Paso this week, days after the border city's mayor declared a state of emergency.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser announced the emergency Saturday amid concerns over the city's ability to respond to a recent influx of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The city plans to bus hundreds of migrants to larger cities that serve as airport hubs, including Dallas.

But while the busses are expected to arrive in the coming days, the city of Dallas confirmed its response would be limited.

Locally, that means nonprofits and other volunteer organizations will fill the gap for services.

“The city of Dallas isn't leading any efforts,” said Christina Da Silva with the city’s Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs office. “We're really grateful for the nonprofits and faith communities that have been working to help migrants arrive to their final destination.”

Those faith groups include Faith Forward Dallas and Dallas Responds, a ministry service of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.

As the busses' expected arrival nears, those groups are figuring out how to serve their needs in the short term while also looking into possible long-term solutions, according to Almas Muscatwalla, who’s leading the Dallas Responds volunteer efforts.

“What they need is compassion,” Muscatwalla said. “What they need is dignity, what they really need is love and acceptance.”

Muscatwalla said the greatest need to assist the migrants is human resources.

“We need volunteers, real people with flesh and blood to come help support in our transportation process in our hospitality,” Muscatwalla said.

The Trump-era pandemic health order known as Title 42 will not expire on Wednesday as expected.

El Paso's emergency declaration came as a Trump-era immigration policy was set to expire. Title 42 requires asylum seekers to wait outside the country for their day in U.S. immigration court.

But while Title 42 was set to expire Wednesday, that expiration date is on hold as the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the policy: Texas and a coalition of 19 other conservative states have urged the high court to reverse a lower court's decision to strike it down.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked the Biden administration and groups challenging the policy to file a response to the states' request by Tuesday afternoon.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told KERA his office has been in communication with El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego for more than a month about migrants being sent to other Texas cities.

The bussing isn't a permanent fix to the humanitarian crisis, Jenkins said. He added that many will only be in Dallas for 36 hours at most.

“It's not that they're dumping a problem on us,” Jenkins said. “They're just working with faith groups here to take buses and get them transported to their ultimate destination.”

Got a tip? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at parauzpena@kera.org

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Pablo Arauz Peña is the breaking news reporter for KERA News.