Judge names three potential Dallas County sites to shelter child immigrants

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 12:11 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 12:15 AM

DALLAS — As politicians continue to discuss how to handle the children who have crossed the border into the United States illegally, 2,000 of those children are set to be housed at temporary shelters in Dallas County by the end of July.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins revealed details on three locations that could be the sites for the shelters, including an old hospital warehouse and a school in Dallas and another in Grand Prairie.

The warehouse is located near Parkland Memorial Hospital and well off the beaten path. D.A. Hulcy Middle School was closed in 2012 and located deep in the southern area of the city of Dallas near Interstate 30 and Interstate 20. Lamar Alternative School is located in Grand Prairie.

"Out of everywhere in North Texas, why would they pick here in this neighborhood?" asked Hector Sanchez, who lives just down the street from the Grand Prairie school. "I heard they were going to come to North Texas, but I would expect somewhere like downtown Dallas or a bigger city."

There seems to be great surprise, but not great opposition on his heavily Hispanic street.

A look inside the school's glass doors reveals a campus that's been vacant one year. Construction equipment is scattered around, so are old educational toys. 

Lamar used to house Grand Prairie's alternative school, but those programs were moved at the beginning of last school year. 

Lamar is now one of three sites Jenkins says may provide temporary shelter for some of the immigrant children who came to America alone. He says the sites are not official yet, and won't be if neighbors say no. He plans community meetings soon.

Jenkins says several sites were toured and considered, but said the warehouse and two schools are the most viable. He says the federal government believes the facilities can easily be secured while providing ample space for kids to eat, sleep and play while they are emotionally counseled, medically treated and legally guided. In addition, the sites are currently vacant.

The kids will not come and go from the facility at will.

"These will not be children able to walk down to the 7/11 and buy a Slurpee," explained Jenkins during a Thursday news conference revealing the sites, "They stay on campus."

The only reason they leave is if there is an approved outing with a sponsor or a reason for medical care that can't be provided on campus. The children will not even board a bus to come to the North Texas locations without a medical screening and vaccinations. They won't end up in local schools.

Private contractors will provide the beds, nutrition and healthcare. Federal, not local, tax dollars are spent on the provisions.

Jenkins said he hopes to have the children in Dallas by the end of July. 

Jenkins says he has heard from detractors -- a lot of them. Sanchez is not one of them, but he isn't completely on board with the proposal for his community, either.

"To be honest I'm from Mexican immigrants," he said. "My parents are Mexican immigrants so I'd like for these kids to be able to stay in this country. They all come for a bigger dream and better life, so I'd like for them to stay. I just don't know if I agree with them being in that school."

Email twoodard@wfaa.com
 

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