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Immigration Debate Hits DFW Overpasses

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Brian New
Brian joined the CBS 11 News team in 2013 after working a...
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GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) - Groups on both sides of the immigration issue took their messages to the streets on Saturday, as plans move forward to locally house children who have been caught unaccompanied at the Mexican border.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that federal officials are spending the weekend in North Texas, working on a plan that may bring as many as 2,000 of these minors to Dallas. They were scouting out an old school building in Grand Prairie on Friday, looking to see how much work will be required to turn the facility into an immigration shelter.

But groups of about 70 protestors lined overpasses along Interstate-35W in Fort Worth on Saturday. They held up signs that said things like “No Vacancy” and “U.S. Kids Before Illegals.” The protestors explained that they do not want to see resources used on children from Central America when there are kids in the United States that still need help.

“I think it’s Mexico’s and South America’s duty to take care of their own children,” stated immigration protestor Heidi Smith. “Why do they have to send them over to us to take care of them? Why can’t they take care of them?”

“We want America and Americans to know that we are supporting you,” Smith added. “We’re showing compassion for our fellow Americans who are struggling right now.”

Less than a mile away, on the very next overpass, stood a group on the opposite side of the spectrum. They held up signs welcoming the children to North Texas. Many said that they want to see the government provide more than compassionate care in the interim. If deporting these minors mean that they are sent back into harm’s way, supporters said, they want to see the U.S. government provide other options.

“They are just children in need,” said immigration supporter Gloria Gonzalez Garcia, who organized the support rally after she learned about the protest taking place up the highway. “If they don’t come here, they probably don’t have a future. They don’t know where their tomorrow will be.”

Garcia’s husband was born in Mexico, and deported from the U.S. five years ago. She said that her family was split in half. “They don’t know the oppression and the suffering,” she said. Her husband is now back in the U.S. and working toward his citizenship. But that experience has helped her relate to the unaccompanied children at the border. Garcia wants to make sure that those kids are treated with compassion.

Both rallies heard car honks, presumably in support of each stance. Of course, both rallies also received a few gestures suggesting opposition. So far, the protests have had no impact on the country’s plan to house these children.

However, much work still needs to be done at the Grand Prairie school and other potential shelter sites in order for them to begin accepting any occupants. Officials at the local level are saying that the initial plan to have these children in North Texas by the end of the month are looking to be less and less likely.

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