Dallas County leaders were busy Monday working with federal officials to advance plans to house up to 2,000 young immigrants currently corralled at the Texas border.
The immigrants will come from more than 50,000 who have flooded across the U.S. border recently, mostly from Central America.
“Every child is precious,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “We can’t help all of these children, but we can help some of the children.”
Dallas County plans to arrange housing and other services for the kids with support from charities.
Dallas Prepares to Accept 2,000 Unaccompanied Children
Late Monday no locations had been finalized, but officials said facilities have been under review for days.
“We’re in the process of vetting out those particular locations now and the accommodations,” Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said. “The neighborhood and the community needs to be assured it’s going to be safe.”
The Dallas Independent School District offered three closed schools for possible support in the effort, Billy Earl Dade Annex at 2801 Park Row, Harllee Elementary at 1216 East 8th Street, and Hulcy Middle School at 9339 South Polk.
It was not clear whether school buildings would be used for housing or just to provide classroom space for the young immigrants.
"It is too early in this process to know how the district may eventually be involved in housing and/or educating these children," DISD Spokesman Jon Dahlander said in an email.
Sharon Cox lives across the street from the former Dade Middle School, which was recently replaced by a new building.
She said she has seen TV reports about the immigrant children being detained in cramped quarters and her community should help.
“I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t long term, I don’t guess I would. If they had a plan,” she said.
Locations could be announced Tuesday when leaders of several charity organizations will meet with Jenkins.
“We’ll talk about opportunities for our community to come on top of those federal services to provide a little compassion and joy to the children that will be here,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins plans to visit the detention area in south Texas Wednesday and finalize plans with local leaders on Thursday.
President Barack Obama said Monday that $2 billion has been made available to reimburse the cost to local communities of housing the young immigrants.
The local housing is to be temporary with an initial term of six months that could be extended but not made permanent.
“We spent time this weekend with neighbors, with large stakeholders in the area just giving them some comfort level,” Price said. “It is a transitional piece and it’s temporary, that was the concern.”