County judge still not sure where migrant children will be housed, volunteer agencies meet | Dallas Morning News - FACTOIDS
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County judge still not sure where migrant children will be housed, volunteer agencies meet | Dallas Morning News

More than 50 staffers from churches and social service agencies met Tuesday for an initial meeting with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to discuss their roles should temporary housing be established here for Central American migrant children.

The four-step review process by the federal government hasn’t been completed, Jenkins said. In Washington, the U.S. Health and Human Services had no comment on the private contractor or contractors who would be awarded the contract.

“Children need to know they are valued,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, at a news conference at the Red Cross.

The migrant children need to know “that the community understands what they have been through and sees them as people not problems. That is very, very important for these children.”

Jenkins turned again to the story of his own 8-year-old daughter, who told her father the migrant children needed help.

“I don’t want my child or her friends or any child to think that when children are in crisis that we turn our back on them in crisis because of their nationality or the language that they speak,” Jenkins said.

Tuesday was the first meeting of the local chapter of the national Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, which will coordinate its activities with federal agencies involved in assisting an unprecedented surge of migrant children traveling without parents. Among the groups meeting were Catholic Charities of Dallas and the Texas Baptist Men. Both organizations were singled out by Jenkins for “phenomenal” work at the border, and in Dallas in finding legal representation for juveniles and their families.

Others attending came from Jewish Family Services, the Salvation Army and the United Methodist Church of North Central Texas, the North Texas Food Bank, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Nikki Beneke, a leader in the volunteer agency consortium, said they were still trying to organize volunteers and duties. But the end goal, Beneke said, is “for children to be children again.”

~ By Dianne Solis, staff writer

*** *** ***
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Tuesday that he still doesn’t know where the county will house thousands of child migrants who have fled Central America illegally, but that he hopes to have them here around the end of the month.

“If I could get them here tomorrow, I would,” he said.

Jenkins said he expects two housing locations. One will likely be announced today, or in the next few days.

Twelve sites are currently being vetted in at least three cities in the county.

Jenkins and local charities are meeting at the Red Cross headquarters in Dallas at noon to discuss needs and logistics.

Jenkins said the federal government will pay to use the sites and bring them up to its standards. They will provide dorm-like housing with security keeping people from getting in and out.

The  government will be in charge of the children’s medical as educational needs, he said.

“These children will not be going to DISD,” Jenkins said, responding to some residents’ concerns that the children will take up local governments’ resources.


Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins revealed his plan to help young Central American detainees when he spoke to the Texas Democratic State Convention on Saturday. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)

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