Abilene a Candidate for a New 'Tent City' - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Abilene a Candidate for a New 'Tent City'

"I don't think it's right. Children should not be ripped from their parents."

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    Abilene a Candidate for a New 'Tent City'

    U.S. Health and Human Services confirmed Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene is among locations being considered for a new "tent city." Fort Bliss in El Paso and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo are also on the short list. (Published Monday, June 18, 2018)

    The city of Abilene is preparing for a possible influx of unaccompanied immigrant children from the Texas border.

    U.S. Health and Human Services confirmed Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene is among locations being considered for a new "tent city." Fort Bliss in El Paso and Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo are also on the short list.

    "This has elevated to a national conversation with significant political implications," said Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams, who found out just like everyone else. He read the news. His concerns were simple.

    "How does that look? How do we respond? What is the right thing to do," Williams asked. "Because we're in a scenario we don't have control. We don't have a vote."

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    About 80 percent of the voters in Abilene and the surrounding area voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. While some Trump voters agree with the administration's policy that separates children from their parents at the border, others in Abilene do not.

    "I don't think it's right," said one Trump voter running errands downtown. "Children should not be ripped from their parents."

    Abilene is a study in contrasts. Politically speaking, it's a conservative stronghold. Socially, the city has embraced immigrants. In the last decade, an estimated 2,500 refugees have come through Abilene. Half have stayed.

    "This community is a caring community," said Billy Enriquez of the Abilene Hispanic Leadership Council. "I think it's just unforgivable what we're doing. It's not just a political issue as far as Democrats and Republicans. It's a humanitarian issue."

    Enriquez and Williams both said the city of Abilene will come together and do what it takes to help any new immigrants who stay, for a little while or long-term, feel at home.

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