Shelter for Immigrant Children in Fairfax? Bulova Says No

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Fairfax County could soon be home to a childcare facility for immigrant children who have been separated from their parents, but not if local elected leaders have anything to say about it.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Fairfax County Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova (D) said the county wants no part of the “heartless practice” of separating children from their parents.

“I am extremely concerned about your administration’s policy of separating children from their families,” said Bulova. “Fairfax County wants no part in this heartless practice.” Officials in Loudoun County and Alexandria have also expressed concern about the proposal.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has said it is looking to lease space in Northern Virginia where it could house about 440 children who are in the country illegally. The Trump administration is also looking for space in Southern California and central Florida.

While the plan’s stated purpose is to relieve overcrowding at shelters along the border with Mexico, critics say it would simply be moving the problem elsewhere and would not relieve the humanitarian crisis that surrounds the practice of separating children from their parents.

GSA says it is trying to house immigrant children closer to areas where they may have relatives or family friends. Northern Virginia and the other areas being considered have large Latin populations.

Who pays?

Bulova also noted in her letter that the GSA proposal make no mention of reimbursing local jurisdictions for costs associated with the shelters.

“Your agency has a duty to provide for education and other services these children need and should bear any costs for doing so rather than imposing them on local and state taxpayers,” she said.

About 130 minors are already being housed in Northern Virginia, in shelters in Prince William County and in Staunton. Those shelters are among 170 shelters in 23 states that house about 8,700 children.

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.