DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Less than a month after announcing Dallas County would volunteer to house unaccompanied minors crossing the border, Dallas County Clay Jenkins is now doing an about-face. Surrounded by local political and religious leaders, Jenkins announced this afternoon there was no longer a need for Dallas County to open shelters for unaccompanied minors.
Jenkins made the announcement on Thursday, the last day of July, which had originally been the deadline for bringing as many as 2,000 unaccompanied minors to the county.
“Children come across the border, they find a person in a green uniform and they surrender to a person in a green uniform,” he explained. New statistics now show those numbers have dramatically been cut to 150 children per day.
The decrease in children illegally crossing the border has allowed sites like Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Fort Sill in Oklahoma to catch up on their backlog.
“21 days to process these children meant the site working well. But at its breaking point, it was at 35 days,” Jenkins noted while discussing the backlog.
Father Rudy Garcia and Rabbi Asher Knight were in the crowd, supporting Judge Jenkins today. “We thank judge Jenkins for his leadership.”Rabbi Knight said. “But these children are at risk and they still need our help.”
Leaders in attendance are now shifting their efforts to helping these unaccompanied minors through the federal court process.
Jenkins said Dallas County will be working with the Dallas Bar Association and other local organizations to help send lawyers to where they are needed, along with translators.
“90% of the children in the system show up without lawyers to their hearings,” Jenkins added. “It’s only right that they have due process and they have lawyers.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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