Dallas County Immigrant Kids Housing Plans Advance

Arrangements to house around 2,000 immigrant children in Dallas County advanced Wednesday as demonstrators spoke out against a Texas senator's plan to deport the children faster.

Contractors hired by the federal government were seen at Hulcy Middle School on Polk Street south of Interstate 20.

The unused school is one of three sites offered in Dallas County to serve as temporary immigrant processing facilities but none have been officially approved yet.

"We've got a cross jurisdictional team there from the federal government today," said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Jenkins went door-to-door in person Wednesday morning to the homes of neighbors closest to Hulcy to discuss the plans with them.

"Of those who were home, I didn't have a single person who, after it was explained to them what was happening, was opposed," Jenkins said.

Neighbor Elizabeth Portillo met Jenkins at her home.

"I think that was very appropriate and helpful for them to come directly to us," she said. "I'm all for it, what they're trying to do, trying to help out the kids."

In North Dallas, members of the immigration reform group Texas Organizing Project (TOP) staged a demonstration outside the office of Texas Sen. John Cornyn on Spring Valley Road at the Dallas North Tollway.

About a dozen people chanted and waived signs during the evening rush hour, demonstrating against Cornyn's proposed "Humane Act." The bill would speed the return of immigrant children to their countries.

TOP leader Daniel Barrera said rushing the children back to the problems they ran from in their countries would not be humane.

"They aren't looking to cause mischief. They're not looking to cause trouble. What they are looking for is a safe and secure place to stay," Barrera said.

Immigrant kids held at the Hulcy facility would not be free to leave as their cases are reviewed. All services for them would be provided at federal government expense on the grounds of the former middle school.

Neighbor Violet Machado said the immigrant children could be less of a disruption than the middle school students who came and went daily from the school.

"It's just protestors," Machado said. "I would hate for it to get rowdy out there, having kids myself. But other than that, I don't mind it."

Jenkins said his office has received many complaints from people opposed to housing immigrant children in Dallas County, but he's still pushing the plan to welcome them in North Texas by the end of July.

"It's going to be an exciting journey, and I'm glad to be a part of it," Jenkins said.

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