DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Dallas has begun receiving asylum seekers from a shelter in El Paso, with a local church being used as a checkpoint.
Oak Lawn Methodist Church began receiving them Saturday evening, with 50 to 60 asylum seekers expected.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said residents have nothing to worry about.
“All of these families that are coming here have been vetted by the Customs and Border Patrol, in order to be released they have a sponsor. So they have a place to go,” Jenkins said.
The church is set up as a checkpoint, giving people reportedly traveling a chance to meet sponsors or relatives.
“Everything from food to mental health to medical services. Babies and small children services. The whole nine yards,” Rev. Gregg Alan Smith said.
According to Smith, the program will run for about 90 days and that no asylum seeker should expect to stay for more than 60 hours, which includes time in an assigned hotel. Bus tickets and plane fare also are arranged.
“Our primary goal is to find ways to first meet their needs. But then find the way to help them get where they are going,” pastor Rachel Baughman said. “These individuals, families as a matter of fact, are coming from a variety of places. But they are coming from across our border. And as they come to that place, there is [an] incredible, overwhelming burden of overcrowding on the border.”
Upon arrival at the church, intake forms will be filled out. About 200 volunteers have helped with the program, so far.
“The thing that we want to make sure people know is that everyone is welcome at God’s table, every single person. It doesn’t matter whether you have papers or not,” Smith said.
The Annunciation House in El Paso, where the asylum seekers came from, reached out directly to Dallas for help.
Jenkins said no public funds are being used.