The decision to temporarily house hundreds of unaccompanied children from Central America in Ellis and Rockwall counties is prompting a passionate debate over illegal immigration.
"It just boggles my mind that the United States would let these people come over here," said Christopher Bruton, who spoke out in front of the church camp near Maypearl where 500 children will be sheltered. "Every single one of them needs to go back home to where they came from."
In Maypearl, hairdresser Bree Carpenter says she struggled with her feelings at first but came down on the side of compassion.
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"Maybe their lives can be touched," she said of the children, all of whom are between 12 and 17 years old. "A mother, you know, a parent who loves children – or anybody – it would be hard not to be compassionate."
A Baptist relief agency known as BCFS is in charge of housing the children under a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
They say the children, who have come across the border in recent days, are overcrowding shelters in South Texas.
They also promise the young immigrants will only stay at the camp 21 days. Some will be sent back to their home countries. Others will live with relatives already in the U.S.
But Bruton, a 19-year-old electrician from nearby Itasca, said none of that is the point.
"It's just a bunch of illegal immigrants," he said. "I think we should pack every one of their suitcases up and send them back to where they came from because they don't belong here."
"And we can't judge people," Carpenter said.
She opened the Simply Beautiful Salon a year ago on Highway 66 in the center of Maypearl.
"We don't know what all those kids have been through," she said. "We don't know what they're coming from. Everyone is going to have their differences but if we stand together and love and do what's right, you know, we'll win in the end."