The debate over what, if anything, Virginia should do to address a humanitarian crises on the U.S. border with Mexico has reached a worst-case scenario with fears of terrorism.
Since late 2013, unaccompanied children have been flooding over the southern border, stressing the resources of the federal government and nonprofit partners. The issue now is at the center of a stalled debate over immigration reform in Washington, D.C., and has raised tensions in communities across the country.
Federal agencies handling the undocumented children have been reaching out to governors across the country regarding potential temporary housing.
In a letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge and chair of the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety, warned of drug cartels and "terror elements" taking advantage of any kindness offered to these children.
"While we are both concerned about the safety of the children who have entered the United States illegally, we must also be concerned with the possibility that criminal gangs and the drug cartels will use the crisis to exploit and enlarge their unlawful activities throughout the nation," Lingamfelter wrote. "Moreover, terror elements could potentially use the confusion to enter U.S. territory."
The delegate asked the governor to make no effort to directly or indirectly allow these children to enter the state.
One Bristow nonprofit, Youth for Tomorrow, is already providing emergency shelter for undocumented minors. The program is operated through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
An HHS spokesperson would not comment on the number of undocumented children in Northern Virginia, but told The Washington Post that, “HHS pays for and provides all services for the children through its network of grantees."
The spokesperson also noted that children spend less than 35 days on average at the shelters and do not integrate into the local community.