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‘They Need Our Help Now’: Texas Judge Takes Action to House 2,000 Immigrant Kids

A Dallas County judge has decided to risk his political future in order to help the immigrant kids have a place to stay.

Judge Clay Jenkins has used his powerful position in his Texas county to offer empty buildings in his jurisdiction to house 2000 migrant kids. Yet, with elections looming in November, he knows he may lose big with his offer for help.

“These children need our help now. If I lose an election over this, so be it,” said Jenkins, who has the authority to offer the buildings under the rules of the county commission.

Jenkins response is in stark contrast to most politicians in the state who have been very vocal in their opposition to having the kids housed in their backyard, including the state’s Governor Rick Perry.

Closer to home, even some fellow Democrats do not support Jenkins’ decision.

“He’s taken a federal problem and he’s turned it into a Dallas County problem,” said Mike Cantrell, a fellow Democrat and Dallas County politician.

Residents in his community have also objected.

“We are setting the welfare of others outside our nation above our own citizens, who should be No. 1 and first in line to receive benefits,” Eric Hansen wrote in the Dallas Morning News decrying Jenkins’ choice.

A judge from a bordering county also said that he worries that Jenkins is creating a safety crisis for the whole area by importing the kids so close to his home.

“None of us want to be harmful to kids. That’s not what we are about as a county, but on the other hand we want to make sure that the children we have here and the citizens that we have living in our county are protected as well,” Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said.

Jenkins, however, has countered that before making the choice he went door-to-door and talked to neighbors who would live near the immigrant kids. He said that overwhelmingly he was told that it was the right thing to do especially since the kids would be remaining in the buildings, not roaming the town.

“We don’t have to solve the border crisis to show compassion to scared children who are alone,” Jenkins told Reuters, pointing out sometimes you just have to step up to do the right thing.

Photo Credit: JenkinsforDallasCounty


About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.