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

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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