Houston charity groups prepare for surge in migrants as Title 42 ends

Massive waves of migrants are already arriving at the southern United States border in anticipation of Title 42 ending Thursday.

Title 42 was a policy put in place during the pandemic by former President Donald Trump.  The policy was intended to limit the number of migrants able to seek asylum in the United States to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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In anticipation of the policy ending, officials at the border have already noticed a dramatic rise in migrants crossing illegally into the United States. On Monday and Tuesday, law enforcement members apprehended more than 10,000 migrants each day.

To alleviate the strain on resources near the border, temporarily approved asylum seekers are transported to towns further from the border until their court appearance.

In October, Catholic Charities opened a transfer center in Houston to help the migrants seeking asylum.

"[The migrants are] processed by Homeland Security Border Patrol," said Karina Hernandez, Director of the Houston Transfer Center. "So, they have permission to be here until they get to go to court."


The Catholic Charities program is funded through federal resources such as FEMA. Since October, they have processed more than 3,000 migrants through the Houston location at a local hotel.

"We support the migrants who have sponsors," said Hernandez. "We’re able to connect them to family members or friends, so they don’t have to stay in detention centers for too long."

Currently, Hernandez says they typically process two or three busloads of migrants per week in Houston. Each bus has roughly 50 migrants on it. However, as Title 42 ends, Hernandez recognizes they could see additional migrant buses. They’re capable of processing fiv migrant buses per week.

"There’s already been an increase in migrants within the past two weeks being connected to us here in Houston," said Hernandez.  "But the border agencies are aware of our capacity, so we’re going to help whoever we can."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner provided a written statement reacting to the end of Title 42.

"The City of Houston is considering options to provide support, but lacks sufficient resources to meet the overwhelming needs of the migrant community," said Mayor Turner.  "Currently we are waiting to see what resources the federal government will provide before determining how and if we can assist. 

In the meantime, we are grateful for our nonprofit community and partners like Catholic Charities and Casa Juan Diego that are receiving a limited number of buses, but are also equally under resourced and overwhelmed.  We hope the federal government can provide the needed resources for us to create a structured plan to fully assist."