Federal contractor backs out of 'resort' for unaccompanied minors



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Posted on July 16, 2014 at 11:10 PM

DALLAS — Their voices aren't as loud as the opposition, but they are just as passionate.

Outside the Dallas office of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Spring Valley Road, a dozen members of the Texas Organizing Project stood on the sidewalk with signs.

"We're making sure that people are aware of this,” said Danny Cendejas of the Texas Organizing Project. “We're reminding Sen. Cornyn that this is not the right way to approach this issue."

They’re demonstrating against The Humane Act, a bill that Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-28th District) are introducing on Thursday which could speed up deportations of the unaccompanied children, among other things.

"These children are not looking to cause trouble. These children are looking for a safe place to be, and we believe they should be treated with dignity and respect — hopefully as refugees," said Daniel Barrera of the Texas Organizing Project.

A non-profit agency in San Antonio called BCFS Health and Human Services has housed unaccompanied minors since 2007 under a federal contract.

It considered spending $3.8 million to buy the Palm Aire Hotel in Weslaco and turn it into a permanent facility for the undocumented children.

"As a result of the negative backlash caused by information misreported to the public, BCFS Health and Human Services has made the decision to withdraw its proposal to establish a 600-bed facility for unaccompanied minors in Weslaco, Texas," the non-profit announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

News 8 has learned that BCFS is not bidding to operate the Dallas County shelters.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services settled on Hulcy Middle School in Dallas, the former Lamar Alternative Education Center campus in Grand Prairie and a Parkland Hospital warehouse building.

If a contractor is chosen by Friday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said rehab work on the facilities could start as soon as Saturday.

When the children eventually arrive, the Texas Organizing Project plans on being there; not to protest, but to welcome them to Dallas County.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com