DALLAS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – In the last two years, the Dallas Independent School District has closed at least a dozen elementary and middle school campuses. CBS 11 News has learned that several of those buildings are now on the list of locations the federal government is looking at to temporarily house immigrant children.
If approved, older schools across Dallas County could be open and operating within a month.
The old Harlee Elementary School campus sits quiet and empty. Neighbor Ariane Cantu Delgadillo said, “I remember when they closed it down.”
Delgadillo now welcomes the idea of putting the building to use as temporary housing for children crossing the border alone.
“They’re kids. They’re not drug lords,” the mother of six said. “They’re not coming here for doing bad. They need something.”
Sitting cross the street from the old Dade Middle School, Dr. Juanita Wallace also doesn’t see a problem with having new neighbors.
“First of all, they’re children,” she said. “They didn’t put themselves in that position. And secondly, they’re going to be supervised.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the federal government would not only pick up the tab, but also the responsibility of running the housing facilities for migrant children.
Opening hosing facilities would also mean that local resident would have opportunities for employment — as teachers, nurses, or counselors.
Jenkins stressed that the children wouldn’t be allowed to leave the facility and only those thoroughly vetted would be allowed inside.
Neighbors near the schools being considered as housing location told CBS 11 that this was the first time they were hearing of the plan. But all seemed open to the idea.
“I think the community will come together. I think we will,” one resident said. “I think there’s a lot of kind-hearted people.”
According to CBS 11 sources, the list of potential sites is down to a dozen or fewer locations. The sites span four different cities and two school districts in Dallas County.
FEMA, Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are currently reviewing that list.
Dallas County officials say public meetings will also be held, to get community input on the immigrant housing plan.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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