ARLINGTON — As undocumented and unaccompanied minors continue to flood into the United States, a group from Grace Lutheran Church in Arlington just returned from one of the Central American countries most impacted by the crisis.
The church members were helping build protective fences around an orphanage in Honduras.
Right away, The Rev. Russell Hildebrandt said they noticed changes over what they had encountered just one year ago.
"There were armed guards in some places," he said. "There were certainly noticeable differences."
The orphanage they helped houses more than 40 kids, many of whom have been impacted by the rising violence in the area.
Hildebrandt said a 10-foot fence is being built around the facility for additional security. He said after seeing some of the conditions in the country first-hand, it's understandable to see why so many would want to risk a dangerous journey to the United States.
"We've gone to some houses where the floor is dirt [...] that's it; and then they live off rice and beans," he said.
Also on Sunday, hundreds of immigrants from Guatemala showed up at a Garland church where the consulate hosted a workshop of sorts to help with visas, passports or other potential legal problems.
With some of the recent 52,000 undocumented kids now in the United States coming from Guatemala, officials with the consulate say they are preparing to beef up their own presence along the border.
""We're opening three more consulates across the border; that is where we really need the support right now," said Jose Barillas Trennert, the consul general.
Dallas County is expecting up to 2,000 unaccompanied children to be housed in a temporary shelter starting as soon as next month.