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  1. #1
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    May 2006

    Residents decry plan to move immigrant children to defunct college in Virginia

    By S.A. Miller
    The Washington Times
    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    Photo by: Steve Helber
    Lawrenceville, Va. residents listen during a presentation by federal officials involved in the placement of immigrant children at St Paul's College Thursday. The program is on hold pending comments from residents. (Associated Press)

    LAWRENCEVILLE, VA - More than 1,000 people crowded into a high school auditorium Thursday in this hardscrabble rural Virginia town to confront Obama administration officials with fierce opposition to plans to turn a defunct college here into housing for some of the illegal-immigrant children flooding across the border.

    The residents raised concerns about security, disease, impact on overburdened emergency services and tax dollars going to unaccompanied alien children (UACs) instead of local families living in poverty.

    “Please take your UACs and relocate them to D.C., where you can keep a very close eye on their welfare and keep them out of our backyard,” said John Zubrod, one in a long line of residents lined up at Brunswick High School to address Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials.

    The administration organized the community meeting in an attempt to salvage the plan to turn St. Paul's College, a historically black college that closed last year after losing accreditation, into temporary emergency shelter for about 500 children.

    The plan was halted earlier this week after backlash from community members and local officials, who only learned of the project after the feds signed a lease with the college, about 70 miles south of Richmond.

    The children were supposed to have arrived Thursday. Instead, HHS officials struggled to persuade a crowd of angry residents that bringing the children to Lawrenceville would create jobs, boost the economy and provide a desperately needed humanitarian service.

    “The people we are talking about are more than an acronym. They are more than a legal definition. They are children,” said Essey Workie, regional director for HHS's Administration for Children and Families.

    She described the hardship faced by the children, who mostly come from violence-wracked countries in Central America.

    “Children are witnessing their mothers being murdered. Children are being raped. Children are being threatened left and right,” she said. “I think it is important we keep at the center of our minds who we are talking about — children who have really suffered already.”

    Her plea did not sway the crowd.

    Anne Williams, who lives on a shady street by the college, said that she was a “fervent Catholic” and wanted to help all children. But she still had reservations about bringing hundreds of the children to her town, where children struggle in poverty.

    “We cannot save the world unless first focused on children in poverty in the United States,” she said to a loud round of applause.

    On that front, Ken Tota, deputy director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, warned the crowd that they risked losing the benefits the project could bring to the struggling town of 1,500 people, where most of the storefronts on Main Street are empty.

    “If this community is not the right place. We’ll find one that is,” he said. “If those federal dollars are not here, they will be somewhere else.”

    The uproar in Lawrenceville is the latest setback to the administration’s scramble to find temporary housing for the children, who are flooding across the southern border in unprecedented numbers.

    Plans to house some of the children at an empty office complex in Baltimore were scrapped after the city’s Democratic mayor and Maryland’s two Democratic senators objected as soon as the details were announced.

    Ms. Workie insisted that the administration would not move forward with plans for St. Paul's College unless it has community support.

    But preparations for the campus continued throughout the day Thursday.

    HHS officials have told residents that the campus would house about 500 children, about 75 percent of them males between the ages of 15 and 17.

    The administration estimated that a steady stream of children would be on the campus, under armed guards from the Homeland Security Department, with each child staying about 30 days until being reunited with a parent or family member.

    “No way do I want to be living anywhere with armed guards and a security fence,” said Donna Lewis, who said she moved with her grandchildren from Washington, D.C., to Lawrenceville seeking a quiet life.

    Along the street by the campus, a series of signs delivered a simple message: “No.”

    Before the meeting, Emory Samford, who owns a funeral home next door to the campus and put up the “No” signs, said nearly every resident on the street opposes bringing the children to their town.

    “The federal government tells us these kids aren’t violent and that there’s nothing wrong with them. But they’re putting up armed guards right in the middle of this community,” said Mr. Samford, who also lives in a house on the street.

    At least 90,000 children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — will be caught this year trying to cross the border unaccompanied by one or both parents, and more than 140,000 will be apprehended in 2015, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection memo.

    Until recently, just about 8,000 unaccompanied children per year attempted to cross the border.

    The Obama administration has called the wave of children a “humanitarian crisis” driven by children flee to the U.S. to escape rampant gang violence in Central American countries.

    Critics, however, contend that President Obama laid out a welcome mat for illegal immigrants, especially minors, by discouraging deportations. Government interviews with the young border crossers confirm that many believe that once they arrive in the U.S., they’ll be allowed to stay.
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  2. #2
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    May 2006

    Angry Virginia Residents Say 'No' to Obama Administration's Plan to House Illegals

    by Kerry Picket 20 Jun 2014, 11:14 AM PDT

    LAWRENCEVILLE, Virginia—Over 1,000 angry residents of the small, rural town here gathered at Brunswick High School on Thursday and reamed out local, state, and federal government officials for offering the St. Paul’s College building as temporary emergency shelter for 500 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) coming from Texas. St. Paul’s, a historically black college, shut down five years ago after losing its accreditation.

    “Right now we have a town—I can go home. I can get supper. At 9 o'clock at night I can come back to my office by myself, go in there and do work, come out at 11:30, get in my car and never worry about being harmed. I can’t do that anymore if y’all come,” said Pam Thomas. “You can’t put them over there and it’s not a prison anymore. It’s a closed facility.”

    Lawrenceville resident Arron Smith said firmly, “The people here don’t want to ask you any questions. We really don’t want to hear your selling points. We don’t want to hear your politically correct terms. We talk slow around here. We got a little twang, but talk direct. Let me say this to you as I look square in your eyes. We do not want you here.”

    Most of the UACs flooding over the U.S. southern border are from Central and South America.

    The Obama administration organized the community hearing, and representatives from the Department of Homeland Security–as well as Health and Human Services–attempted to quell fears and suspicions about the plan, telling residents that the individuals who would be housed at St. Paul’s would be medically screened as well as background checked for any prior criminal history. Residents weren’t buying it.

    “I’m concerned that I already moved my two children from New York City–Queens–to here, and they have already been subjected to liquor and drugs in school, and now you’re telling me this is a lease property and that we’re going to use our police to help this program,” said a woman from Lawrenceville who noted her own Latin background.

    “We can’t control what’s going on in our own town. I’ve lived here less than two years, and my kids have hardly been subjected to things that they had been subjected to in the last ten years in New York. I can be with them 24-7, but what happens to everybody else’s children who can’t be here 24-7?” she asked. She continued:

    "We have to travel 20 minutes at least to get some kind of community stuff for the kids. We don’t have anything here in this town, but yet you’re going to bring all these extra problems to us. You said you’re gonna hire extra people to deal with my fellow Latin people that have gone through rape, abuse. And you’re talking about Central American. That has to do with all the guerrilla and civil wars they have going on and they’re coming with this type of mentality. Have we not seen what happened in the bigger inner cities that have the resources to deal with it? Andbl you’re bringing it to a town that doesn’t have the resources."

    “The people we are talking about are more than an acronym. They are more than a legal definition. They are children,” Essey Workie, regional director for HHS's Administration for Children and Families, told the crowd.

    Geraldine Woodley scolded the government representatives for selectively paying attention to one ”humanitarian” effort over others.

    “I find it appalling that there is no St. Paul College representation here to talk to us…” She went on:

    "As a resident of Brunswick, my husband is the retired sheriff of 16 years in this county and I am a graduate of St. Paul’s College. So I find myself stuck sometimes in conversations from all three perspectives. It is a great humanitarian effort to try to help children of any nation. We see what’s happening in Africa. We saw what happened in Haiti. Where were the houses for the Sudanese children and for the Hatian children? I didn’t see that."

    Although the UAC’s were scheduled to arrive on Thursday, the plan was put on hold following a severe backlash from the community. In the meantime, the panel of government officials continued to promise that if Lawrenceville residents did not want the UAC facility in operation, the plan would be scrapped.
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  3. #3
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    May 2006
    Due to size limitations, was unable to post a couple other videos from the above article so here they are:

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    Added first article to the Homepage:
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