North Texans discuss helping refugees in Trump era

Those who help refugees once they get to North Texas are navigating the potential changes to immigration policy.

On Thursday, dozens of churches and other non-profits are meeting to talk about how they can continue to help immigrants. The people organizing the meeting say they're seeing misinformation. They say they don’t want to get into politics on the issue but instead want to know how they can continue their mission of helping refugees who are arriving and who are already here.

From inside an apartment rented in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood of Dallas, Leonid Regheta is a connection to resources for North Texas' newest Americans.

“We are basically a one-stop shop where they can come in and say, ‘I need to find a vacuum cleaner, a ESL class, and somebody that can take my son to a medical appointment,’” he said.

Regheta came to the U.S. in 1989 as a refugee, himself. He now helps run the Project Start Refugee Resource Center. It's one of the non-profits that is meeting at Park Cities Baptist Church on Thursday to discuss the future of refugee resettlement.

“Just do a state of the union. What is the state of immigration and refugees here in Dallas? Specifically, who's here? What is our reality and how can we help our neighbors is the second aspect of that?” asked Catrina Dawson with Unite Greater Dallas.

Dawson says the last meeting like this was in 2015. It was after the terror attacks in Paris that prompted Governor Greg Abbott's call to ban Syrian refugee resettlement in the state.

This year, protests and a legal battle over the president's executive order on travel have left some who work with refugees uncertain about what's next and whether they will see a direct impact. They are questions they say are more practical than political.

“We're not advocating for our politicians to take a stance one way or another,” Dawson said. “We're really calling on the Christians in our midst to step up and be the church and care for those people among them and love their neighbor.”

Organizers of Thursday’s meeting say they're also going to talk about how to best volunteers coming forward in recent weeks. Project Start says they've seen a noticeable increase in calls from people asking to help refugees.