Grand Prairie residents address school board about border children



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Posted on July 17, 2014 at 11:08 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 18 at 10:40 AM

GRAND PRAIRIE -– At Grand Prairie Independent School District’s board meeting Thursday, the board heard public comment on the proposal to house unaccompanied migrant children in its vacant Lamar Alternative School.

“I think as humans and as churches and as citizens of the city, we have the opportunity to love these children,” said Matt Henslee, a student pastor at Inglewood Baptist Church.

Henslee and many others came to the mic with the approach of compassion, asking that the school board do the job it’s charged with -- caring for kids.

“They are asking not to be raped. They are asking not to be murdered," said one woman who signed up to speak. "Those are the things these children are trying to escape."

But others argued the most compassionate move would be to send them back to their old home, before they try to make Grand Prairie their new one.

“We’re wanting to infiltrate them into our communities where we lose track of them, and it’s a problem, immigration is a problem in our country," said another Grand Prairie resident. "So I want you to think -- are we enabling or are we helping?”

For those already dealing with immigration issues, the idea of the government helping these kids on a fast track seems unfair.

“I have a biological daughter waiting in another country to come be with me, and then I see that other people, they don’t obey the laws, they just come, and I don’t think that’s fair,” said Heidi Slaughter, who’s daughter is in Canada. She legally immigrated to the United States several years ago, and feels these kids should have to follow the same rules.

The board heard both sides, and it will be up to them to decide whether or not to open Lamar to the border children.

There is no date set for when the board would vote on the issue, or when, if approved, contractors would go in and ready the building for occupants. The closest the board came to a timeline for action came from a vague reference to holding more meetings with the government and the public in the next 30 days.

On Friday the Grand Prairie Fire Department told News 8 that the fire sprinkler system in the school needs to be upgraded, which could take some time.