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Immigrant Kids Won't Be Coming To Dallas County, Judge Jenkins Says

Jenkins3.jpg
Doualy Xaykaothao
/
KERA News
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins talks in front of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe.

Those 2,000 immigrant children will not be coming to temporary shelters in Dallas County after all, the county's top elected official announced Thursday afternoon.

 The big reason, County Judge Clay Jenkins said, is that far fewer kids are trying to cross the border now compared to a month ago. 

Jenkins, who spoke in front of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe, said the number of child refugees crossing from Mexico into Texas has dropped by half, from 300 per day in June, to 150 per day in July.

He said the reduced flow of children means that they can be housed at existing shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border and at three military bases: Lackland in San Antonio, Fort Sill in Oklahoma and the Ventura County naval base in California.

Just a few weeks ago, Jenkins generated national headlines -- and some controversy -- when he announced the county would welcome 2,000 of the kids being housed in overcrowded facilities along the border. The county offered the federal government two closed schools and a hospital building to become temporary shelters. Jenkins met with President Obama to discuss the matter earlier this month.

“The feeling that I have right now," Jenkins said, "is just gratitude to a faith community that stepped up and changed the national conversation from some fear and anger of faceless immigrants and border concerns to changing what it is really about, which is desperate children fleeing violence and potentially death.”

More than 57,000 immigrants, mostly unaccompanied children, have come from Central America this year. Many are fleeing violence and drug cartels in Central America and are brought to the U.S. by paid smugglers.

Jenkins said Dallas County would continue to have a role in dealing with the immigrant kids.

“We’ll be sending lawyers to Fort Sill, we’ll have lawyers going to Lackland," he said. "Just because there are not children here, does not mean we don’t need this legal community of close to 10,000 lawyers to stay engaged in this process.”

 

Learn more

Read KERA's earlier coverage on this issue:

 

KERA's Shelley Kofler contributed to this report.

 

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees keranews.org, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.