Dallas County leaders have narrowed down the list of possible sites to house the 2,000 immigrant children being brought to Dallas.
The proposed locations are: Hulcy Middle School in Red Bird, which has been closed the last few years; a school that was formerly Lamar Elementary and then later Lamar Alternative Education Center in Grand Prairie; and a Parkland Hospital building near the main campus in Dallas.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said those sites were the three most "viable options" and the vetting process is ongoing.
“I hope as we deal with the community and we move forward, that the community will keep in mind this is about compassion to children and here in North Texas we don't turn our back on children,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the buildings are well-suited as shelters because of the capacity to house kids, they have cafeterias, exercise facilities, places for kids to play and good security.
Officials said there will be community meetings about the immigration sites.
“The students will be self-contained,” said Dallas ISD Trustee President Miguel Solis. “They will not be joining other Dallas ISD students, They're not going to be enrolled in Dallas ISD schools. Everything will be, as best as we can tell, run by the federal government.”
The government will also provide security on campus so that the children are not allowed to leave freely. Outsiders won’t be allowed in without permission.
“It used to be an alternative school, so we're used to seeing cops around, but knowing it's just innocent kids who crossed the border for a better life, it's going to be a little different,” said Hector Sanchez, who lives near the vacant Lamar school building.
Private contractors will provide food, beds education and healthcare at the shelters.
Gov. Rick Perry testified at a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing in South Texas on Thursday that in addition to the humanitarian crisis created by a flood of unaccompanied child immigrants, there is a crisis involving border security.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October after entering the United States illegally. Three-fourths of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and say they're fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.
Perry has authorized $1.3 million per week in additional funding for the Texas Department of Public Safety to bolster border security.
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