N. TX officials visit border facilities in McAllen - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

N. TX officials visit border facilities in McAllen

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A team of North Texans recently returned from a visit to border facilities in McAllen, TX.

They now have a more clear vision of the task ahead as they work to offer shelter to 2,000 undocumented children at two facilities in Dallas County.

Judge Clay Jenkins, state Senator Royce and Pastor Freddy Haynes from Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas toured the detention facilities on Wednesday to see firsthand what’s going on there.

Jenkins said officials are moving fairly swiftly in the process with the goal to bring the kids to North Texas in the next few weeks. He also said no local taxpayer money would be used to house the children.

He may name the two Dallas County facilities as soon as Thursday. The Department of Health and Human Services still has to approve the facilities.

If all goes well, the children could begin to arrive by the end of the month.

U.S. Congressman and longtime physician Michael Burgess returned Tuesday night from visiting a federal holding facility on the border in McAllen, TX.

Burgess says he considers the children's arrival in Dallas County a potential public health threat, raising concerns of infectious disease like tuberculosis. But his main concern is the long term, and he worries it won't stop with two Dallas County shelters.

“I don't mean to sound insensitive here, but if our goal is to depopulate Honduras of poor people and bring them here, there's a better way to do it,” said Burgess. “Send a Carnival cruise line down there to pick them up. Don’t send them across Central Mexico to ride on the top of a freight train as 8-year-olds and arrive on the shore of the Rio Grande River. That's dangerous; that's heartless.”        

Overwhelmed by the surge in illegal immigration, especially by unaccompanied children, the U.S. government has launched a $1 million international media campaign warning families in Central America that it's best to stay at home.

Billboards will go up in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with 6,500 public service announcements running on TV and the radio in those countries through early September.

Gov. Perry says that doesn't go far enough.

“If you want to stop these young people coming up from Central America through Mexico, I would suggest the diplomatic reach with foreign aid into the leaders of those countries and basically say, ‘You will engage in stopping this traffic coming up through your country, and if you don't, this foreign aid is going to stop,’” said Perry. “That is a boycott I could see."

There are some 35 North Texas charities standing by to see what they can do to help the children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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