NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Protesters in North Texas and across America were on a mission Friday to keep attention focused on the border crisis.
There were demonstrations across the country, but the largest one in North Texas was in Dallas… where anti-illegal immigration protesters found themselves sharing the stage with immigration rights supporters.
“I think we’ve been duped into thinking it was the compassionate thing to do and unfortunately these kids are going to be into drugs, into gang activities, [and] into sex trafficking,” claimed a protestor from Garland who would only identify herself as Barb. “I think we need to look beyond what just the emotion, the compassion, the caring for the children really means.”
‘Barb’ was especially critical of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who initiated the idea of opening three local public facilities to children massed at the border. “I’m concerned that Clay Jenkins has taken the authority to bring not only 2,000 people here, but they’re saying up to 24,000,” she said. “And they’re not children. Twenty-percent are children with an accompanying parent or adult. The rest are in their teens, so I’m concerned who they’re bringing in here. They have no clue who these people are.”
“I would welcome them with open arms,” said Mavis Belisle of Dallas, who held a banner supporting the children. “But at minimum I want the law followed adequately. And the law is not to deport them immediately, but determine their status in a legal process.”
Judge Jenkins issued the following news release in the wake of the two demonstrations —
“I am focused on working with our community, faith leaders and federal partners on helping traumatized children in crisis move from detention on the border to compassionate care here. Leaders can empower grace and mercy or incite fear and anger but it’s the community that responds. Dallas County residents have overwhelmingly chosen compassion.”
Middle ground was hard to come by. Two groups, of about 50 people each, with opinions pretty well entrenched when it comes to illegal immigrants gathered at the border.
“Well, these people are coming here illegal; our borders are wide open. We need to stop it,” said Mark Montgomery of Dallas.
Montgomery was the polar opposite of Laura Mendoza, an organizer of the counter protest and member of the North Texas Dream Team. “We’re human, it doesn’t matter what color, where you’re from, it doesn’t matter anything,” Mendoza told CBS 11 News. “It’s children. We’re all human. We all matter. We all pay taxes.”
Edna Hill and her daughters were visiting the Kennedy Museum from Maryland, where their governor has asked not to receive the immigrants. The Hill’s were taking in both sides, because the mother said the issue came up recently in the girls’ summer school. “And we just happened to walk up on the group and I said, ‘It’s one thing to discuss it in class, but there are real people involved with sentiments on either side.'”
Though part of a national organizing effort, leaders were not obvious. Most information had come through social media.
“Everybody’s on their own,” said Marsha Williams of Garland. “This is no big organization that I know of. It’s just a lot of people come out.”
More demonstrations locally and statewide are set for Saturday.
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