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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Texas Judge Under Fire Over Immigrant Housing Plan

Judge Clay Jenkins (center) is pictured announcing possible sites for housing unaccompanied children in Dallas County. He tweeted this photo with the caption "In Texas we take care of children." (@JudgeClayJ/Twitter)

Judge Clay Jenkins (center) is pictured announcing possible sites for housing unaccompanied children in Dallas County. He tweeted this photo with the caption “In Texas we take care of children.” (@JudgeClayJ/Twitter)

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is facing criticism for a plan to house children crossing the border from Mexico illegally. He says they could be housed at a local middle school, an alternative education building and a warehouse at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Jenkins is a Democrat and Republicans are blasting him over the plan, saying the local school system and health care delivery system will be overtaxed by people who won’t be able to contribute to that cost.

Jenkins speaks to Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss his plan and respond to critics, including a county commissioner who says the judge is turning a federal problem into a county problem with no input from the county.

Interview Highlights: Clay Jenkins

On the need to provide housing to the child migrants

“It’s not about politics. It’s about precious little children.”

“I would encourage all politicians to go to the border and see the children. This is not about the immigration debate, and it’s not about politics. It’s about precious little children. I saw a 1-year-old girl crying for her mother while a border patrol agent changed her diaper. And her mother was a thousand miles away. I saw siblings with their faces pressed to the glass in the holding cells that they were in — overcrowded, dirty, scared and abandoned — looking at their siblings in other holding cells just wanting to be reunited with what little family they had left. If people go see what I have seen, and what faith leaders have seen, then this political rhetoric will stop and this community will unite and focus on helping these precious children.”

On people who claim making the border more secure will fix this crisis

“Saying, ‘Let’s make the border more secure’ when you have children stacked on top of each other in drunk tank-like holding cells that are designed to hold six adults, but have 30 children in them… it’s not the answer.”

On how a number of people will benefit from a housing solution for the children

“I had men on the verge of tears. Men who have worked 14-hour shifts, six days a week and did not sign up for the sort of work that they are doing in this crisis. We need to provide them with the capacity to move these children out of these harsh and overcrowded conditions, and move them to compassionate care. That’s not only the right thing to do for the children, it’s the right thing to do to support our border patrol agents, our ICE agents, and our DPS officers who are working so hard.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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