An influx of migrants being bused from El Paso is expected to hit Dallas next week, authorities say.
Rocky Vaz, Dallas’ emergency management office director, said Tuesday that El Paso city and county officials have been coordinating with Dallas on how to help migrants crossing the southern border get to other parts of the country where they can be met by relatives or sponsors.
The effort is largely being led by local nonprofits working at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, which has been the receiving point in recent years for asylum seekers bused from the border and a detention center in Anson — more than 170 miles west of Fort Worth.
“The plan is they will come here with airline tickets provided by El Paso for transfer on the same day,” Vaz said. He said the city is helping nonprofits process people after they arrive, feed them, provide a place for them to stay temporarily and get to their flight out of Dallas Love Field or Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
He estimated the process would take between six and 10 hours per person.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency Saturday because of concerns over the city’s capacity to handle thousands of migrants arriving daily. The increase is because of the pending end of Title 42, a COVID-19 pandemic-related policy that has allowed U.S. border agents to expel migrants on public health grounds more than 2 millions times without giving them a chance to apply for asylum.
The policy was established under the Trump administration in March 2020. It was slated to end on midnight Wednesday, but the U.S. Supreme Court extended the restrictions after Republican attorneys general in 19 states, including Texas, argued that getting rid of Title 42 would cause a spike in illegal immigration at the southern border.
Opponents of the restrictions have argued that it was put in place to bar access to people seeking asylum under the guise that it’s necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to end asylum restrictions, but asked the court Tuesday for a delay until at least after Christmas.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told The Dallas Morning News last week that the city’s and county’s plan to address the increase in migrants includes transporting hundreds of people a day on buses to areas with major airport hubs, such as Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Denver.
He said they’re estimating between 4,000 and 5,000 people arriving in El Paso per day.
Dallas Responds, a collective of nonprofits and faith groups, estimates up to six buses of migrants each week will arrive in Dallas from El Paso, according to Almas Muscatwalla, the collective’s liaison with border and governmental agencies.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said no county money or resources are being used related to helping asylum seekers. He said he personally is helping local faith-based organizations connect with El Paso County officials.
Jenkins said discussions related to busing migrants began six weeks ago with El Paso County working with Dallas County officials to help them book flights from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Flights straight from El Paso are less frequent and more expensive.
“This is not a political stunt to dump people in other states,” Jenkins said, referencing Gov. Greg Abbott’s ongoing strategy of state-sanctioned busing of migrants to predominantly Democrat-run cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. “This is for people waiting for their American trials to be with their family here and work through the immigration process.”
Staff writer Dianne Solis contributed to this report.