Dallas County

County Commissioners Field Community Response to Undocumented Kids Plan

It's not every Tuesday that you see reporters from three Dallas TV stations live tweeting a Dallas County Commissioners' meeting, but that's just what happened today. Why the hubbub? This meeting was a de facto public hearing on County Judge Clay Jenkins' plan to house up to 2,000 undocumented minors in the coming months.

For the most part, those among the standing-room-only crowd who spoke agreed with Jenkins that providing aid to the kids was a matter of compassion rather than politics.

Eric Folkerth, the senior pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in North Dallas, echoed many of the speakers when he pledged that he and his congregation would do everything they could to help any incoming children.

Jan Sanders, the widow of former U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders and a member of Folkerth's church, told Jenkins and the commissioners that she couldn't think of a better way to spend tax dollars.

Other speakers weren't so sure. Eric Williams, an independent running against Eddie Bernice Johnson for her District 30 U.S. House seat, asked Jenkins to consider the needs of kids already in Dallas.

"Why house kids in my blighted community?" he asked.

Still, Williams, along with a few other voices of dissent, were in the minority at this meeting at least. Apprehension over how to help the kids, or how to pay for it, was overcome by the clear desire to do something, anything for a group many of the speakers referred to as "refugees."

After the meeting Mike Cantrell -- the lone Republican commissioner -- told a reporter from WFAA that Jenkins was making a federal problem a Dallas County problem. He wants to see Jenkins plan in writing, he said.

When asked about his potentially attending a Wednesday meeting intended to address the crisis with President Obama, Jenkins deferred all questions to the White House.