Community and religious leaders spoke Monday in support for the immigrant children who are expected in Dallas County in August.
Sylvia Marroquin, 13, who spoke to an audience at Dallas City Hall with the help of an English translator, described the increasing gang violence in her native country of El Salvador, and how her family was forced to flee.
"They don't have compassion for any minors," Sylvia said.
She fled the country to reunite with her parents in the United States in 2013, leaving her brother behind. Her story is very similar to those of some of the 52,000 undocumented children who have been detained crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since October.
Religious and political leaders in the Dallas area are preparing for 2,000 of those children now in detention to shelter in Dallas County.
"I don't know what denomination you are or political affiliation, but we have to have a heart for these kids," said the Rev. Lynn Godsey, president of the Hispanic Evangelical Ministry Alliance.
Several charitable organizations are now looking for volunteers, and the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees president, Miguel Solis, is also stepping forward.
"I want to make it clear that Dallas ISD is ready to assist the county commissioners and our government when and if the time comes," said Solis.
But leaders realize there is opposition to the idea of sheltering the children in Dallas.
"We'll come together with community leaders to stand the gap to welcome these children when they come," said Godsey. "They’re not criminals. They're children."