Sharon Bulova, retiring Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, always has prided herself on being welcoming, inclusive and a champion for children.
But on August 12, Bulova declared she wanted no part of a proposed facility to house unaccompanied immigrant children in Fairfax County. Her letter to the Dep’t of Health and Human Services (HHS) was published in the Washington Post, presumably to garner wide attention.
The federal government recently announced that it is looking for space in northern VA to house unaccompanied immigrant children, also known as “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UAC). Bulova objected because she doesn’t like federal government policy that separates children from adults who illegally cross our southern border together, a policy that was put in place by the Obama Administration. Separations are temporary until a family tie can be confirmed to prevent the trafficking of children. Surely Chairman Bulova wants to prevent child trafficking.
Two things make Bulova’s objection curious. First, the border separation policy to prevent human trafficking is unrelated to housing UAC who need temporary shelter because no family member has been identified and no adoption has yet taken place.
Second, three northern VA institutions have been housing UAC at least since 2011 and earning multiple millions of dollars doing so. Youth for Tomorrow, founded by the legendary Joe Gibbs and located in Bristow, has received $83.5 million in federal funding since FY2012 specifically for UAC services. The Juvenile Detention Commission for Northern VA in Alexandria has received $7.3 million since 2014 for the UAC program. And the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Home in Staunton has received $35.4 million since FY2011 for the program. (These figures are taken from the HHS website.)
Federal funding for UAC services began in 2008 under the Obama Administration. It has exploded into a $6.6 Billion program from which northern VA organizations clearly have benefitted. Of course, this sum doesn’t account for untold tax dollars spent at our state and local levels to feed, clothe, educate and offer medical treatment to the children.
So far during this fiscal year, 980 UAC have been placed with sponsors in Fairfax County. Over the past six years, an average of 944 UAC have been placed with sponsors in Fairfax County each year. We cannot know who these sponsors are, but we hope there are no human trafficking connections. Obviously, a sizeable number of UAC are placed in Fairfax County. Does Chairman Bulova know this?
Only a month ago, Sharon Bulova and her Board of Supervisors voted to give $200,000 to provide legal representation to detained immigrants in civil deportation proceedings and to fund “Know Your Rights” training to (illegal) immigrant families.
Color me cynical. Sharon Bulova’s opposition to a shelter for UAC in northern VA is a political stunt against the Trump Administration. It is the height of hypocrisy.