HOUSTON — A new temporary shelter for migrants from the Texas-Mexico border is now open in Houston.
Catholic Charities staff and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are running the center, which has already served nearly 20 migrants since it opened on Monday.
The people the center aims to help have been allowed to stay in the U.S. by the federal government while they await their immigration court hearing.
That wait can take months and each migrant must have sponsors identified to provide long-term help.
Houston Transfer Center Director Karina Hernandez says a hotel near Bush Intercontinental Airport is serving as their intake area. She said its also where they work to find out where the migrants need to go next.
“They are extremely grateful," Karina said.
It's a place for migrants to get food, clothes, toiletries and a hotel room to rest.
“It’s a temporary stay. One, maybe two nights," Karina said.
Catholic Charities is not publicizing the exact location of the center to protect the safety of migrants and staff.
The hotel is close to the airport so migrants can quickly catch flights to their immigration court destination.
Hernandez says border agencies prefer to send migrants to Houston because it has a lot of direct flights.
“[It's] less costly compared to flying out of San Antonio, where they might have to make a couple of stops," she said.
This week, the transfer center is relieving overcrowding from Casa Juan Diego’s Houston shelter.
They’ll help about 50 people this week, mostly asylum seekers from Venezuela and Colombia.
“They have dreams to start a new life, a better life, and they hope that they can do that here in the United States," Karina said.
Next week, the shelter could get around 100 migrants directly from El Paso.
The center will run for up to three months or until the nearly $3 million from FEMA runs out.