DALLAS - Hundreds of families from across the border will soon call Dallas their temporary home.
This is part of a joint volunteer initiative from local faith leaders called Dallas Responds.
They plan to bring roughly 100 immigrants to Dallas from a crowded shelter in El Paso.
About 100 volunteers showed up for training Saturday morning at Oak Lawn Methodist Church ahead of dozens of immigrant families arriving in Dallas.
People who have been cleared by the federal government are given a short window of time to reach their legal sponsors here in the U.S.
The goal is to get them to their final destinations as quickly as possible.
“This is exactly where our volunteers are going to be greeting our guests, and actually welcoming them in the space in Dallas,” said Almas Muscatwale, executive director of Faith Forward Dallas.
It’s a temporary home for families who’ve traveled hundreds of miles to seek asylum in the United States.
Oak Lawn United Methodist Church is opening its doors to the first group arriving this weekend.
“Up until two days ago, we weren’t even sure we were going to receive the bus,” Muscatwale said.
The initiative started when Rabbi Nancy Kasten got a call from The Annunciation House shelter in El Paso.
“This story of migration is very close to my heart,” Kasten said.
They said relief organizations at the southern border were overwhelmed and needed help providing assistance to immigrant families.
“My grandparents came here two generations ago, and it’s only because what they did, what they risked and the warming, welcoming environment to the United States that gave them the opportunities that they had,” Kasten added.
Motivation that a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim imam, and a Christian priest could all agree on.
Motivation for this respite center.
“There’s no chance that we won’t succeed at this,” one person said.
The space is set to hold 55 asylum seekers.
“The screen is going to serve as tracking our guests’ arrival and departure,” Muscatwale said.
Underneath the sanctuary, volunteers have set up several rooms where families can rest and parents can care for small children.
There’s a clinic with doctors and supplies to handle medical concerns.
There is also a room where families can pick out new clothing, shoes, and toiletries.
“Most part, people have generally donated,” Muscatwale added.
Each family will only stay for a few days, some only a few hours, just enough time to make transportation arrangements to their final destinations.
“All of these families that are coming here have been vetted by customs and border patrol, and in order to be released, they have a sponsor,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Pastor Rachel Baughman says they're fighting for these families before the clock runs out on their legal stay in the USA.
“We do all that we can to work for compassion and justice in this city,” Baughman said. “And so to be a city that is about compassion and justice, it only makes sense for us to open the doors of our city as well.”
The faith leaders say they expect two buses to arrive from El Paso each week.
Their plan is to keep the center open throughout the summer.