DALLAS — Inspectors from the Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies inspected three properties being considered to house unaccompanied immigrant children bound for Dallas.
At the same time, church groups met to discuss how to deploy their resources to help with the expected influx of young people.
A building near the new Parkland Hospital, owned by the Dallas County Hospital District, will be the first stop for immigrant kids coming to Dallas from the border. It is currently vacant.
If the facility passes inspection, construction crews would modify it into a clinic for health inspections of the children along with a dormitory.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins hopes to get details from Washington on what company will get the contract to manage the Dallas program later this week. The program is expected to house as many as 2,000 children in three facilities.
Jenkins appeared before a group of more than a dozen faith-based organizations at Park Cities Baptist Church on Tuesday. They want to pitch in to provide extra help to the program.
That means linking volunteer lawyers and translators to aid the children in their journey through the legal process; helping them find foster families to care for them while their cases work through the court system; and providing additional material goods that the youngsters will need, but the federally-funded program may not supply.
"I've never seen anything like this crisis before," said Rabbi Asher Knight of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. "I don't think anybody has seen anything like this before, and I think the needs are real. And we have to do something about it. [Faith-based organizations] have a moral and faith responsibility to do something about this."
"These children are like your children," Jenkins told the group, which ranged from Catholic Charities to Texas Baptist Men. "And I think everybody in this room knows that."
The churches want to be ready when the kids arrive, which may be before the end of this month.
"We can start getting background checks from when they say you can be involved and be a part of the federal response," said R.J. Holt of Park Cities Baptist Church.
Until then, the groups will be soliciting their congregations for volunteer legal help, foster families, and donations for material goods.