The Obama administrations plans to shelter upwards of 500 illegal children surging across the border at a defunct college in rural Virginia were abruptly halted due to public outcry after town and county officials objected to the short notice and complete lack of community input.
The government’s plan to temporarily shelter hundreds of illegal minors crossing the Southwest border at Saint Paul’s College in Virginia is on hold. (Associated Press)
There was a public outcry in the form of letters to the town council offices, including from nearby residents threatening to boycott the town if the college became a way station for illegal youths.
Rep. Robert Hurt, the Republican congressman who represents the region, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell demanding she halt the project. After the delay was announced, Mr. Hurt said it should be the beginning of a total rethink.
“I would request that they completely halt the implementation of this plan and return to the drawing board,” he said in a statement. “If the HHS plan is indeed good for the people of Lawrenceville and Brunswick County, then they should begin with a transparent and open process that includes the community and the local elected officials every step of the way and ensures compliance with all local, state and federal laws — including the local zoning ordinances of the town of Lawrenceville.”
Many residents expressed concern and fear that the children bring disease with them, and immigration officials have said many of the children have never seen a doctor until they are intercepted by agents at the border, and head lice and scabies screenings are part of the initial checks.
After seeing the local disapproval to the Lawrenceville site, HHS officials hit pause.
“The project of developing Saint Paul’s College as a site for caring for minors in the Unaccompanied Alien Children program is on hold pending community input,” said Kenneth J. Wolfe, spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families.