Since announcing his plan to bring 2,000 undocumented immigrant children to Dallas County, Jenkins’ life has become hectic, including trips to the Rio Grande Valley to witness the problem; he’s met with the president and become the self-imposed leader of a spiritual movement to serve children whose lives have been turned upside-down.
Arrangements to house around 2,000 immigrant children in Dallas County advanced Wednesday as demonstrators spoke out against a Texas senator’s plan to deport the children faster.
Contractors hired by the federal government were seen at Hulcy Middle School on Polk Street south of Interstate 20.
The unused school is one of three sites offered in Dallas County to serve as temporary immigrant processing facilities but none have been officially approved yet.
In a state where a politician can make a name for himself by picking a fight with President Barack Obama, Jenkins has chosen another path. He has backed or replicated some of Obama’s most prominent initiatives, on issues such as health care, the minimum wage and the Texas voter ID law.
It’s a risky strategy for a Texan, even a Democrat, and even in Dallas County, with its strong Democratic majority. The efforts have raised Jenkins’ political profile, but they’ve angered Republicans and could test how truly blue the county has become.
Jenkins did not seek a vote from fellow commissioners, but he wants to have community meetings on the issue. Neither Price nor any other local politico was behind his decision. In fact, if anybody deserves the title of puppet master, by Jenkins’ telling, it’s his 8-year-old daughter, Madeleine.
She urged her father to get involved after watching accounts of the unaccompanied children flooding across the border, he said Saturday, adding that she even offered to share the family’s Highland Park home with a few of the young girls in peril.
“She was excited about playing with some of the girls,” Jenkins said.
What supporters and critics alike don’t know about Jenkins is that he’s extremely confident in his ability to solve problems, local, state or national.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins promised last week to house thousands of children who are desperate to cross the border into the United States. The announcement sent shockwaves across North Texas and throughout the nation. But does Jenkins actually have the power to do it?
When county officials first revealed that thousands of immigrant children might be sheltered in Dallas County, there was also a word that public input would be a part of the process. But, so far, no public forums have been scheduled. The issue is seeing a lot of discussion, however, at Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Wednesday that he expects the federal government to use all three local buildings identified as potential shelters for immigrant children from Central America.
Jenkins also said he’s sticking with his goal of having the children arrive by the end of July, even though time could be running short to meet that target.
Federal crews have already begun walking through the buildings — two unused schools and a county warehouse — to assess their readiness and prepare to convert them into shelters. Renovation could start this weekend, Jenkins said.