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North Texas church expects to receive 100 migrants daily after Title 42 expires

Asylum seeker Kevin Leon charges his phone sitting on a cot in a row of cots at Oak Lawn Methodist Church in Dallas.
Yfat Yossifor
Asylum seeker Kevin Leon charges his phone sitting on a cot in a row of cots at Oak Lawn Methodist Church in Dallas. The church hosted 65 migrants on Wednesday and expected the number to increase significantly after Title 42 is lifted.

Oak Lawn United Methodist Church will receive migrants five days a week instead of weekly after the pandemic-era border policy known as Title 42 ends.

As the pandemic-era border policy known as Title 42 nears its end, one Dallas church says it’s preparing to receive — and help — more migrants seeking asylum.

Since 2019, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church has assisted migrants who are dropped off there after being processed at the border and immigration detention facilities. It’s a pit stop where church staff and volunteers provide clothing and help with travel arrangements before migrants continue to their final destination. Once there, they’re required to follow through the proper asylum-seeking process, such as appearing in immigration court.

Under Title 42, most migrants have been expelled to Mexico or their home countries rather than be allowed to apply for asylum here.

Typically, the church receives about 100 migrants who arrive by bus on Wednesdays. But beginning May 11, when the policy is set to expire, church officials expect to receive 100 migrants five days a week.

Wednesday morning, 65 migrants arrived from two Texas detention centers. About a dozen of them were women.

“It will certainly be an increase in the work and the operation that we’re doing,” said Senior Pastor Rachel Griffin. “But because [in] this operation we see people come in and go out really all in one day, it’ll just be a lot of repetition of that throughout the week.”

Griffin says the church is training volunteers and taking stock of provisions needed, such as snacks, backpacks and clothing like jeans and t-shirts.

Even though the church will see more migrants daily, Griffin said she wants people to know that this isn’t unusual. She believes Title 42 and its restrictions on migrants seeking asylum have created a so-called bottleneck at the border.

“For Title 42 to be lifted is really a matter of just getting back to what our normal operation has been and should be,” she said. “And the reason that we’ll see a major influx is because it has been imposed, not because there’s a massive change in the number of people actually seeking asylum in the United States.”

U.S. officials are anticipating more unauthorized border crossings when the policy is lifted. As a result, the administration is planning to send 1,500 troops to the southern border to assist National Guard troops already there and U.S Customs and Border Patrol officers. They’re expected to stay 90 days to help with tasks like narcotics detection, warehouse support and transportation, according to news reports.

Libya Godoy looks up at Pastor Isabel Marquez while sitting at a long table with other asylum seekers.
Yfat Yossifor
Libya Godoy looks up at Pastor Isabel Marquez as she gives instructions for their stop at Oak Lawn Methodist Church in Dallas on Wednesday. The church will feed, clothe and transport the migrants to the next leg of their journey.

Griffin said the work her church does to help migrants in their journey could be a model for other groups that want to help. Most migrants don’t stay more than a day or a few hours before heading to their sponsor in the U.S. Church staff and volunteers help them make travel arrangements via bus or air.

Migrants arriving at the church Wednesday represented different countries, including Venezuela, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, China and Algeria.

One of them was Carlos Eduardo Cardales-Hostia, who left Colombia a month ago. He said he traveled through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico before arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It was very ugly,” he said. “You see people who’ve died. It’s very risky.”

Cardales-Hostia said he traveled with some friends who stayed behind in Mexico. He’s headed to Chicago next to stay with a friend and said he plans to follow through with the process of seeking asylum, including showing up to immigration court on the date he’s assigned.

His main reason for coming — to help his mom who has an enlarged heart. She’s currently living in Chile with his girlfriend, who’s Chilean.

“I want to work,” he said. “I want to work in the fields…it’s the season for picking apples, kiwi, peaches. Help my family [and] work like always.”

Those interested in volunteering or providing other assistance can visit the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church website at

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.