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Cornerstone President Says No Current Plans To House Immigrant Children Here

By Lynda Jones, Editor-in-Chief

The influx of unaccompanied minors coming into Texas from Mexico has sparked concern among some residents that some of the immigrant youth might be housed at the Davy Crockett Regional Juvenile Facility (DCRJF).

In response to that concern, both Houston County Judge Erin Ford and Cornerstone Programs President Joe Newman stated Friday, July 11, that currently there are no plans for using the DCRJF to house illegal migrant children.

"Houston County and the City of Crockett have been working to support the DCRJF. The focus for Cornerstone is to continue to work with Senator John Whitmire's office to obtain adjudicated juveniles for the facility," Ford said.

Newman confirmed that Cornerstone's goal continues to be to serve the county youth and the state youth in its programs. He said the Crockett facility currently has nine youth, and expects two more to arrive next week.

While confirming that U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has contacted Cornerstone Programs and the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corp. (CEIDC), he emphasized that the conversations were very general.

"This is so premature," Newman said.

ICE was familiar with the former Crockett State School property from when it considered the facility after the state school closed. Crockett was on a list, Newman said.

Newman explained the federal agency looked at the Cornerstone program, but there is no contract and nothing is in the works as far as he knows.

Newman said, "If there are kids and they're suitable for our program, if it works for us and if it works for the community, then we would be interested. We're comfortable working with delinquent children."

"When we came here, we wanted to give the city and county jobs," Newman said. "We were looking at 82 jobs, but we're not going to do it in a way that hurts the community or without community involvement and support."

With regards to the immigration crisis, Ford commented, "We have to secure our borders. The complication for us is that we're a compassionate people. Once the children are here, they have to be taken care of (until their situation is resolved)."