Rep. Kay Granger blasts plan to house young migrants in Dallas County
FORT WORTH — The chairwoman of the GOP group studying the border crisis said Friday that a Dallas County plan to house up to 2,000 immigrant children who illegally entered the country is misguided.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said it wasn’t a good idea to place children in abandoned schools. And she said the goal should be to quickly send the children who aren’t victims of child trafficking and other heinous actions back to their countries of origin.
“I wouldn’t do it. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Granger told KXAS-TV (NBC5). “I don’t think a school is set up to be a shelter or home for a child, even for a short time. We’re on the wrong track of planning on how to take care of the 58,000 children who have come here.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who offered the county’s help to deal with the influx of children from Central America, was quick to respond from vacation in Southern California.
“This is a humanitarian crisis, and everybody has a job to do,” Jenkins said. “Dallas County is doing our job to help these children. … It’s time for Congress to go back to work and do their jobs” and approve President Barack Obama’s request for funds to address the situation.
Since October, more than 57,000 children have entered the U.S. from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They mostly turn themselves in, and the government is struggling to house them while following the legal process to determine their status.
Granger said she opposes Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency request to deal with the crisis. Among other things, she said, such spending anticipates keeping the immigrants here illegally for years, instead of the short period preferred by the study group of Republican House members that she leads.
Jenkins seemed to agree with the logic, though he supports the president’s request.
“The president’s plan to end the crisis includes money to build permanent refugee and relocation facilities,” Jenkins said. “Our Dallas County plan is a temporary, compassionate stopgap while the federal government builds permanent capacity and attempts to end the border crisis.”
But Friday, during a recording of Lone Star Politics with NBC5 and The Dallas Morning News, Granger said the children should not be placed too far from the border, since the goal should be quickly processing them through the system.
“We should keep them as close as possible,” she said. “Their countries had them and are better able to take care of them.”
Jenkins said he was pushing hard to begin housing up to 2,000 of the children at the end of the month.
Two of the facilities would be in the city of Dallas, the other in Grand Prairie.
Granger said the recommendations of the GOP study group should be ready next week. And she cautioned that plans to solve the current problems at the border should not be mixed with the ongoing debate over whether to overhaul the immigration system and create a path to citizenship for those who have been in the U.S. illegally for many years.
“It is a crisis,” Granger said. “It is not a decision on immigration reform.”
Democrats contend that the crisis was fueled in part by the failure to resolve the broken immigration system. Republicans counter that Obama’s 2012 order halting deportations for many young immigrants has helped fuel the notion in some countries that children might be able to stay in the U.S. after they arrive.
Jenkins said he hoped Granger would urge Congress to work with Obama in good faith.
“There may be many solutions, but partisan bickering and failure to act is not one of them,” he said.