Search for permanent shelter for unaccompanied migrant kids in Northern Va. called off

Plans for a facility to house unaccompanied migrant children in Northern Virginia have been scrapped after pushback from local leaders and community members.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted an email he received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirming that the Office of Refugee Resettlement was no longer considering Northern Virginia as a potential site for an unaccompanied migrant children shelter.

Wilson told WTOP that Alexandria was prepared to discuss a system between the city and the federal government wherein the children were taken care of and treated humanely.

“We wanted to make sure the welfare of these kids was taken care of, and we were not comfortable that this administration was looking out for that right now,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that though the plans have been scrapped, he was still concerned about the welfare of the children. “These are primarily trauma-impacted youth who have been through horrific circumstances, and I think throughout this process, we have been most concerned about how those kids are cared for and under what circumstances,” he said.

“I think what we were concerned about was this government, this administration, arbitrarily putting facilities in our community that we would have no control over, no oversight over, and no ability to protect the welfare of these kids,” Wilson added.

In late July and early August, the General Services Administration issued a pre-solicitation notice regarding federal government plans to build a shelter in Alexandria, Fairfax County, Loudoun County or Prince William County. Many local leaders voiced their opposition to the plans.

The federal government also ended its search for potential shelter sites in Atlanta, Georgia; central Florida; and Los Angeles, California. Sites in Texas and Arizona are still being considered.

Virginia already houses unaccompanied migrant children in shelters in Bristow and Staunton.

WTOP’s Brandon Millman and Michelle Basch contributed to this report. 

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Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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