DMV Download

Maryland-based nonprofit prepares for arrival of migrants

Migrants walk towards the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

A nonprofit group based in Maryland said it is preparing for the arrival of migrants to the D.C. region following a recent wave of them crossing the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas.

“We are getting a sense that what we’re seeing now is going to significantly expand in the coming days,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), a nonprofit immigration group based in Baltimore.

“A major surge” of over 2,400 migrants crossed into the U.S. daily last weekend, acting Chief Patrol Agent Peter Jaquez of the El Paso Sector tweeted on Dec. 12.

The surge is happening just before the expiration of Title 42, a coronavirus pandemic-era public health emergency order, that has been used for the last two years to expel asylum-seekers.

Vignarajah said LIRS is mobilizing volunteers and resources to meet the needs of the migrants who come to the D.C. region, an area that said tends to be a magnet for migrants because of ties to family, job opportunities and supportive and welcoming communities.

“We are seeing a slight uptick in the number of children and families arriving in our area,” said Vignarajah. “By all accounts, there’s an expectation that more people will seek safety once the Title 42 restriction expires next week.”

A federal judge blocked the use of Title 42 and ordered the Biden Administration to stop expelling migrants using it by Dec. 21.

“It was a purported public health rule, although public health officials are crystal clear about the fact that they don’t actually believe that there is a public health rationale underlying it,” said Vignarajah.

LIRS connects immigrants with affordable housing, food, clothes, getting their children enrolled in public schools and helping them find work.

“These are by-and-large families coming with only what they can carry. Some don’t even have winter clothes,” said Vignarajah. “[We] really just try to connect them to community resources so that they have that support network.”