Antonio Olivo, Washington Post, August 12, 2019
Top Democrats in increasingly blue northern Virginia are telling the Trump administration they’re against plans to open a shelter for unaccompanied minors in the region, and saying their jurisdictions should be compensated for any potential impact on local schools or hospitals.
In a part of the state that is home to a large Latino immigrant community, elected officials also are saying they disapprove of the way the federal government has handled a historic wave of migration at the southern border, where children have been separated from their families and placed in squalid conditions inside crowded holding facilities.
HHS wants to build a “Virginia Residential Child Care Facility” that would have a staff of 147 people and be equipped with classrooms, sleeping areas and two acres of outdoor space for recreation, according to a formal solicitation posted by the General Services Administration.
The agency previously said the facility would be among three new permanent shelters constructed in communities with large numbers of immigrants from Central American, where most of the minors who have entered the country in recent years have come from. The other proposed facilities would be in Los Angeles and central Florida.
The effort is meant to house youths close to where they may have relatives already living, and ease crowded conditions inside U.S. Border Patrol processing centers, where visitors have described seeing unbathed children wearing clothes caked with snot and toddlers without diapers.
Nationwide, HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement funds about 170 shelters in 23 states, with about 8,700 unaccompanied minors in those facilities.
In Virginia, about 130 unaccompanied minors are being held at privately run shelters, mostly the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Staunton and Youth for Tomorrow in Prince William County, immigrant advocates say.