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The Dallas Morning News
June 28, 2014

Clay Jenkins wants Dallas County to house child immigrants
By Gromer Jeffers Jr., Andrew Scoggin and Dianne Solis

The influx of children fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala has put added strain on the immigration system. Roughly 52,000 minors have been detained by U.S. immigration officials for unlawfully crossing the border with Mexico since October. Gov. Rick Perry has asked for more support from the federal government, including backing from the National Guard. He and other Texas leaders recently authorized the Texas Department of Public Safety to spend $1.3 million a week to boost border security. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is scheduled to visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities in McAllen on Monday. President Barack Obama has announced planned stops in Dallas and Austin for fundraisers July 9 and 10, though Perry has invited him to see conditions at the border. A plan is in the works to convert an empty warehouse in McAllen into a processing facility to hold as many as 1,000 unaccompanied children, according to an AP report. The Rio Grande Valley is where many minors trying to cross the border are being caught. Homeland Security first sends apprehended children to processing centers, such as ones in McAllen and Nogales, Ariz. They’re supposed to be transported within 72 hours, in coordination with Health and Human Services, to shelters like the proposed facilities in Dallas County. The county, Jenkins said, would have a contract to house the children for 120 days. Depending on the state of the crisis, the children could be in the county much longer. Jenkins said the goal of the plan is to help children find longer-term housing, possibly with family. Adding to the challenge is that Dallas immigration courts are overloaded, as are most of the 59 immigration courts around the nation. Cases can take about 15 months to process, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonprofit that researches federal justice issues.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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