Former Grand Prairie School May Soon House Immigrant Children

The border crisis could reach the front doorsteps for dozens of neighbors in a Grand Prairie community.

That’s because the old Lamar Alternative school on Walnut Street has been placed on a short list of three locations in North Texas that could house some of the 2,000 children expected to be brought up to DFW from the border.

It’s a plan that would build a fence around the school building to keep the children in, and one that has folks on both sides of that fence.

“It’s ironic it’s 4th of July, I mean how desperate are we that we came across all this land and ocean to find freedom, I’m all for it,” said Rene Velasquez.

She’s lived in the neighborhood for more than 10 years.

“As a mother of four, I feel for these kids, these families and I'm okay with it, as a Christian, we’re supposed to invite and welcome,” she said.

Other neighbors say, not so fast.

“We have kids who come and play basketball here, we have kids who come and play soccer here, we have people who take walks around the block. They’re going to fence it, they’re gonna keep children on one side, us on the other; I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” said neighbor Steve Heidel.

On this 4th of July, folks are thinking about freedom, and the freedom to decide.

Mayor Pro-Tem and Councilmember Tony Shotwell said there was little conversation about the school even making it on the short list.

He said he found out just hours before Judge Clay Jenkins announced the school and sites being considered.

“We don’t know what kids, what age group, what kind of infrastructure repairs they would want to do, if there’s going to be neighborhood meetings, we’re in the dark,” he said.

These sites aren’t set in stone just yet. It has to be vetted by the federal government before the children are brought to the shelters.

The goal is to have them in place by the end of July.

In response to our story, Judge Jenkins told NBC 5 late Friday afternoon he was in close contact with Grand Prarie's mayor soon after he got word the site was on the short list.

He said he has been in contact with Grand Prairie ISD as well.

Now, there will be important community meetings.

Jenkins said the neighborhood's voice is an important part of this process.

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