Yesterday when WFAA was live-feeding a press conference about undocumented immigrant children to be housed in a church camp south of Dallas, I could swear I heard Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown say he intended to keep the camp surrounded and make sure his officers keep track of everybody who enters and leaves.
I didn’t see it in WFAA’s on-air coverage or in the The Dallas Morning News story, but the News did quote Brown saying he intended “to protect everybody” and that, “This is under control and we have everything secured.”
Obviously the sheriff believes he and his armed deputies will be able to protect the residents of Ellis County from a bunch of kids.
But even with that kind of firepower lined up against them, there is always the slim chance that some of the kids will evade capture, and Sheriff Brown is only trying to be prepared for the worst.
I know I measured the distance from the camp to my own home in East Dallas on special mapping software yesterday, and it’s almost exactly 34 miles — a distance a child walking 4 mph could cover in one night, assuming he or she were successful crossing freeways.
So I have a martial arts trick that the good people of Ellis County could use to take down free-ranging tykes — not as hard as some people may think if the kids are small — and I will get to that in a minute.
Federal officials have announced they will house 500 undocumented children over the next three weeks in the Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center operated by the North Texas district of the Assemblies of God near Waxahachie. Rick DuBose, a spokesman for the Assemblies of God, told reporters yesterday he had been told between 40 and 60 percent of the children will be sent back to their lands of origin while others may be placed with relatives in the United States.
The children are part of a fresh surge of unaccompanied children crossing the Mexican border in the last two months, many fleeing gang violence in Central America. He said, “We are honored to give these kids a place to live for the next 21 days.”
Of course. If they stay put. But then think about it this way: They already got here from Central America. Somebody has taught these kids how to walk.
And let’s not dance around the thing. A great big old Texas sheriff with a Stetson hat and a star on his belly wouldn’t surround the camp with armed officers if he didn’t believe there will be something really scary going on in there. As we know, a lot of extremely scary things have happened recently in France, California and other foreign countries, and the one thing we do know about every single one of these children coming to Waxahachie is that they’re all foreign.
Please. I am not here to sow panic. I just want us to be realistic about the fact that any one of us could walk out the door tomorrow and find a Guatemalen fourth-grader staring us in the face. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared.
You may have seen some of the advice often given to people attacked by criminals: Police tell them to scream, shout and make the biggest amount of noise possible. I think this is good advice when confronting orphans, but frankly I fear it may not be enough.
Especially in Ellis County where the risk is highest, citizens should take advantage of their superior physical size compared with most children. I have spent some time in Waxahachie and nearby Maypearl, and my own observation is that a lot of those people in Ellis County are way bigger than children. Waaay bigger.
My martial arts trick that adults can use in defending themselves against children — I invented it — is the simple screaming shin-kick, where the endangered adult, screaming as loud as he can, bolts forward to surprise the child, kicks the child smartly in the shins one time, then runs back in the house screaming and slams the door.
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The greater challenge, of course, is the older child. During that live feed on WFAA I was looking Sheriff Brown over pretty closely, and I do worry that an especially nimble 12-year-old might be able to get over on him a little bit. It’s here that we come into some of the really tough questions. What if the screaming shin-kick won’t work?
If some of the kids wind up loose and roaming the county, would the people of Ellis County be justified in dusting off their assault rifles? If a child sneaks through the sheriff’s armed perimeter, is ordered in plain English to halt but fails to do so, what’s the logical next step?
One reason I raise the question here is my hope that some of you staunch defenders of gun rights out there will weigh in. I always enjoy hearing from you a lot.
I believe the Ellis County sheriff’s bottom line is this: He is sending a message to these children that no children anywhere are going to frighten the people of Ellis County and make them give up their American way of life. Ellis County will do what it has to do.