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Dallas church's migrant center on edge about SB4 enforcement

SB4 decision brings fear and uncertainty to Dallas church with a reputation for migrant outreach
SB4 decision brings fear and uncertainty to Dallas church with a reputation for migrant outreach 02:09

DALLAS — Dallas Responds at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church's letter to Governor Greg Abbott at the end of December produced no results regarding the implementation of Senate Bill 4. Monday, after the Supreme Court gave Texas the green light to enforce the law, their concerns increased.

"This is like completely taking away the right of these people to come to this country for safety reasons," said Almas Muscatwalla.

Muscatwalla is a liaison and site coordinator with Dallas Responds. She is also a migrant. One of the program's primary functions is helping migrants who come in on a bus on Wednesday morning after being detained as they await a court date.

She said the group is on edge about law enforcement rolling up on buses because SB4 gives authorities the power to arrest those suspected of coming into Texas unlawfully. 

"I really don't know if they have the power to kind of come into our place of worship and come and really attack us directly," said Muscatwalla.

Local police have not announced immediate action to enforce the law on church grounds where migrants get assistance. But the newness is still enough to create uncertainty and anxiousness.

Most police departments defer migrant enforcement to federal authorities unless a separate crime is committed. Muscatwalla believes training officers is an unaddressed issue. 

The church outreach said the number of migrants decreased. Muscatwalla said there was a time when they received four buses a week. Wednesday's bus, which has 30 people on it, is the only one this week.

"I think they're putting people into making decisions for their life and death in a very non-constructive way," Muscatwalla said.

The uncertainty of the law has not stopped the desire to serve. She said the church's mission will go on.

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