DALLAS -- Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins' original timeline to house unaccompanied migrant children by the end of the month looks increasingly out of reach, at least for the vacant Grand Prairie school under consideration as one of three sites where the children would be held.

Grand Prairie fire, building officials, and private contractors inspected Lamar Alternative School Friday morning. The biggest obstacle: It doesn't have a sprinkler system.

The building also needs an extreme makeover. Its electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems will all have to be replaced, said Grand Prairie Fire Chief Robert Fite.

'It's going to take two weeks to design and plan systems,' Fite said. 'I can't even give you a timeline. By kids sleeping here, it's changing the use, which changes the rules, so in order to meet those rules under city codes [we'll need to update the systems.]'

All this comes as demonstrations for both sides of the immigration issue were scheduled for Friday and Saturday in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. In North Texas, protests were planned in Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, Plano, and elsewhere.

Outside Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins' downtown office, dozens of protesters and counter-protesters gathered to make their opinion known.

Jenkins' plan to house as many as 2,000 migrant children has been controversial from the start.

Grand Prairie's Lamar, plus Dallas' vacant Hulcy Middle School, and a Parkland warehouse in the medical district are the three sites being considered.

Dallas Fire Rescue officials say having the Dallas sites ready by the end of the month would be a very tight timeline. Officials have done a preliminary walk-through of the Dallas sites, but are still accessing what will have to be done to bring the buildings up to code.

The buildings do have fire sprinklers, officials said. The Parkland warehouse does not have air conditioning.

Grand Prairie's chief said the 1950s-era Lamar building is currently classified for educational use and as long as the use didn't change, it was grandfathered under old building codes. But now that the use of the building will be changing, it will have to meet all of current building and fire codes.

'If you're going to house that many children overnight, to us a fire sprinkler system is a must, anyway,' Fite said.

Chief Fite said officials were originally estimating the facility could house about 300 children, but it's looking like the building will be too small to house that many.

He said it'll be up to federal officials will decide if it's feasible to fix up Lamar, and federal contractors are hoping to calculate a price tab by the end of the week.

'I do think it can be done,' Fite said. 'Again, this comes down to timing and how fast it's got to happen.'

Jenkins told News 8 that he's still pushing to get the sites ready the end of the month.

'Our federal contractors are used to dealing with much more difficult situations than this,' Jenkins said. 'These guys move really fast. This isn't your typical construction.'

Still, no work can start until the contract gets signed, and it's unclear when that'll happen.

'Although our border agents are doing a heroic job, we need to do all we can to move these children to compassionate care as fast as we can,' Jenkins said. 'As soon as humanly possible, I want that contract signed and get those kids here.'


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