Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the border crisis is a federal problem, not Virginia’s, and that undocumented children are only being housed at one location in the state—even though news outlets have confirmed more.
During a Wednesday radio interview on WTOP, a caller asked the Democratic governor how he is going to handle the border crisis now that it has reached Virginia in terms of jobs and schools. McAuliffe pinned the blame on Congress’ failure to pass immigration reform and said there was “nothing we can do at the state level.
“Now, we don’t have an issue in Virginia—we only have really one facility, that is the federal government contracting with a private contractor, Joe Gibbs,” McAuliffe said, referring to the former Washington Redskins coach’s nonprofit Youth For Tomorrow in Prince William County. “That is not the state. That is the federal government contracting with a private entity, which they’re entitled to do.”
More than one facility in Virginia is housing unaccompanied minors in Virginia, however.
The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center in Alexandria has housed 310 minors since 2007, according to Krystal Kimrey, the center’s executive director. Since April, 51 undocumented children have arrived—19 in April, 11 in May, 12 in June, and nine in July, according to Kimrey.
“We house up to 20 [Unaccompanied Alien Children] youth at one time,” Kimrey wrote in an email.
The Roanoke Times reported earlier this month that more than half of the children living at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center—about 24—are undocumented. The federal government has held a federal contract for the past five years to house unaccompanied minors there.
The federal government has been tight-lipped on requests as to where else they’re placing these children.
“We do not identify regular/permanent Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelters for the safety and security of minors and staff at the facilities,” Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of public affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
HHS’ office of Refugee Resettlement placed 2,234 unaccompanied minors with sponsors typically relatives—in Virginia from Jan. 1 to July 7.
That only represents children who have actually been placed in homes, not children who are still being held in detention centers and other facilities.