Virginia officials alarmed at illegal immigrant children housed at nonprofit

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Lawmakers in a Northern Virginia county are looking for answers about a contract between the federal government and a local nonprofit to house illegal immigrant children weeks after community opposition forced the Obama administration to rethink a plan to house some of the children at an abandoned college south of Richmond.

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart said Tuesday that members have directed the county’s executive to find out, among other things, how many children are being housed in Prince William, where they are and how long will they be there.

The children are reportedly being housed at the Bristow-based nonprofit Youth for Tomorrow. The organization on its website says it provides counseling and education to at-risk youth at a 115-bed residential facility on its 200-acre campus.

Mr. Stewart said the board is also seeking to find out whether it has any authority over a contract between the federal government and a private entity.

The actions come a day after Mr. Stewart on Monday said he learned the federal government was placing the children at “private and perhaps federal facilities in our county.” He said federal officials did not notify the county about the arrangement and that no county facilities were being used to house the children.

“While it may seem cold hearted, it is important that these children be sent back home since letting them stay simply entices even more children to attempt the long and dangerous journey to the United States,” Mr. Stewart said.

Prince William County has long been at the forefront of efforts to crackdown on illegal immigrants locally. Officials ignited a national debate by using local police to round up illegal immigrants in 2007. Last month, the board filed a Freedom of Information Act seeking to force the U.S. government to divulge what it did with the more than 7,000 people turned over to deportation authorities.

The disclosure that some of the tens of thousands of children flowing across the U.S. border are being housed in the county comes after federal officials last month backed off a plan to turn the shuttered St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville into temporary emergency shelter for about 500 children.

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