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Fewer migrants than expected arrive in Dallas after Supreme Court decision on Title 42

Pablo Arauz Peña
Migrants, who have already been processed at the border, receive food and clothing at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas as they make travel plans to arrive at their final U.S. destination.

Volunteers in Dallas are still welcoming some migrants following the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to keep in place a Trump-era immigration policy, but they worry about the implications for migrants stuck at the border.

Fewer migrants than expected arrived in Dallas Tuesday morning, after the U.S. Supreme Court held in place a Trump-era public health order used to quickly expel migrants.

Local nonprofits were prepared for a greater number of migrants to be bussed in from El Paso after the city declared a state of emergency amid an influx of asylum seekers at the border.

But that didn't happen: the high court extended Title 42 Monday afternoon, which means several thousand migrants will remain on the other side of the border for now.

“It’s a little frustrating and brings up a lot of emotions," said Isabel Marquez, a pastor at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, where some migrants arrived Tuesday morning. "The desperation happening at the border, some migrants might try to take other measures to get here, and so they put their lives at risk.”

Volunteers at Oak Lawn UMC were still able to provide food and clothing for migrants like Reynaldo Perez, who came from Nicaragua and was at the Bluebonnet Detention Center in Anson, near Abilene.

“I haven’t seen my family for four months,” Perez said in Spanish. “I’m waiting for my phone to charge so I can call them and see them. I’ve just talked to them on the phone but I haven’t seen their faces, and yeah, it’s a slow migratory process but it went through and I’m finally free.”

Following Monday's Supreme Court decision, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on the Biden administration to deploy federal assistance to address the border crisis ahead of a polar vortex that is forecasted for much of the state.

At a White House press briefing Monday, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration will deploy 23,000 agents to help secure the border.

It’s also asking Congress for $3.5 billion for additional resources.

Volunteers at Oak Lawn received 29 people — about half as many as what was expected earlier this week. All came from the Bluebonnet Detention Center.

Pastor Rachel Baughman, who’s leading the welcoming efforts with the church’s nonprofit service ministry Dallas Responds, said the news of the Supreme Court decision doesn’t impact their efforts to provide respite for migrants.

“Certainly, it's taking the wind out of our sails a little bit, but we can't stop because we actually do this on an ongoing basis,” Baughman said.

As Perez awaits the next leg of travel, he said he plans to go to Wisconsin, where his brother and other relatives are waiting for him.

“We’re already here and we’ve gotten through the worst,” Perez said. “Now we’ve just got to keep up the good fight.”

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