Nonprofits throughout Texas are preparing to receive an influx of unlawful migrants.
Border Patrol agents at the El Paso border crossing were expected to release thousands of unlawful migrants into the country following the December 21 expiration of Title 42 — a part of U.S. law that gives the federal government the authority to take emergency action to keep infectious diseases out of the country.
President Donald Trump invoked Title 42 at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 to prevent people from bringing COVID-19 into the U.S.
However, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked Title 42’s termination on Monday, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Regardless of whether Title 42 will remain in place, Texas organizations are still preparing to respond to the influx of people entering the state from its border with Mexico. Dallas Responds, an interfaith nonprofit, said they have been assisting unlawful migrants for months but are now preparing for the arrival of more buses each week.
“We’ve been in conversation with El Paso County, so on top of receiving these two buses, there’s a great possibility that the county wants to start sending buses of probably as many people that we can receive,” said Almas Muscatwalla, border and government liaison for Dallas Responds.
She continued, “We are trying to figure out how much resources we’ll be needing in terms of human resources, financial resources in terms of just basic supplies because we do want to be very hospitable, we want to receive our guests in a dignified way.”
Muscatwalla said they usually receive unlawful migrants from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Anson Detention Center, or directly from the border. She added that volunteers and translators work to make sure they understand critical information, including the importance of making their court date.
“We need to be preparing and ready to receive more people so that we can help elevate the burden along the border and assist in the transportation and offering respite for people as they seek asylum,” said Rachel Baughman, senior pastor at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.
Border state officials like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have contended that ending Title 42 would cause “irreparable harm.” Abbott has noted that Texas bears a heavy burden as unlawful migrants enter the U.S.
“Texas won’t wait on Biden to do his duty to secure the border,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “The Lone Star State continues to protect our communities, our state, & our nation from Biden’s open border policies.”
Oak Lawn United Methodist has worked with Dallas Responds for several months to provide clothing, food, and temporary shelter to unlawful migrants traveling through Dallas.
“Dallas, as a transportation hub, is really an ideal spot for a lot of these folks to come through so we can help them get to that next location pretty easily,” Pastor Baughman said.
“Many of them have been on this journey for a long time and have some of those basic needs that are just really important at that moment. We start there and also make sure we also assist with getting transportation lined up for getting to their sponsor,” she continued. “When these people who have been on this journey come to our door, we’re going to make sure it’s an open one, and they have a place to come in.”
She added, “We’re just one church, [but] it’s not just the church, it’s the community. It’s the collaborative effort of multiple faiths [and] even people with no faith, and it’s a place for people to come together and be generous and hospitable and to offer a kind of love that is exactly what the season is about.”
Republican-led states, including Texas, have asked an appeals court to postpone Title 42’s termination.