By Caitlin Gibson October 16 at 2:14 PM
The Washington Post

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will seek federal reimbursement for costs associated with more than 200 undocumented child immigrants who have been relocated to the county after crossing the U.S. border.

The supervisors voted Wednesday to authorize a letter to President Obama and the county’s congressional and state delegations to express concern about the “unfunded federal mandate” resulting from the resettled children, and request that the federal government foot the bill for any resulting, local-tax-funded costs within the county school system or other public services.

Earlier this month, the board asked county staff to investigate the potential financial and health impacts of the reported 227 unaccompanied minors who have been placed with sponsors in Loudoun. At Wednesday’s meeting, Assistant County Administrator John Sandy reported that 28 children within the school system have been identified as unaccompanied minors, and the estimated cost of their education for the current fiscal year is about $225,000.

Those 28 students have been distributed across Loudoun’s primary and secondary schools, according to county staff, and school officials said that the addition of students is neither unusual nor creating any hardship in the system.

Under federal privacy law, the immigration status of a newly arriving student can be voluntarily disclosed, but is not requested by the school system. Loudoun has registered a total of 87 students identified as refugees between July 1 and Sept. 30, of whom 28 are unaccompanied — meaning they were sent to live with a relative or friend who does not have custody of the child, according to the staff report.

Several supervisors expressed frustration Wednesday that the county could account for only 28 of the 227 unaccompanied children reported by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“Where are the missing children?” asked Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who proposed the original motion to request more information about the resettled minors. “We can’t declaratively say what the costs are to us unless we know where they are. ... What do I tell my constituents?”

Due to regulations aimed at protecting the privacy and safety of the refugee children, information about their whereabouts is not publicly available. Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) said it was unfortunate that the government could not do more to thoroughly assess the potential financial impact for county taxpayers.

“I know there are some people out there, our political opponents think that we are on a witch hunt,” Reid said. “We are not. We are looking out for the taxpayers of Loudoun County, that’s what we’re concerned about.”

Several supervisors said they were troubled by the possibility of illnesses spread by the undocumented children. Although school and county officials noted that there is no evidence presented by either the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the county health department to indicate that the students from other countries represent any public health concern, Board Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) said he was less than impressed with the federal government’s abilities concerning potential health threats.