A plan to use the campus of a recently closed Historically Black College and University in Virginia to house illegal child immigrants is on hold, pending community input, The Daily Caller has learned.
Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va. closed last year after it failed to meet accreditation standards amid financial difficulties.
But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified the campus as an ideal facility to house young Central American immigrants who have been apprehended at the U.S. border in southern Texas.
Thousands of them, called “Unaccompanied Children,” or UACs, because they came to the U.S. without their parents, have overwhelmed federal authorities, causing what some have called a “humanitarian crisis.”
Last week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that federal officials with HHS visited Saint Paul’s College and were nearing an agreement to utilize the property for six months.
The facility will soon go up for auction, but the temporary housing plan, which would involve leasing housing on the campus, would give it more time to pay down debts.
BuzzFeed also reported that it obtained a “transportation flow chart” showing that Saint Paul’s College would serve as a temporary site for the UACs.
As part of the plan, the minors, who are mostly between 12 and 17 years old, would be flown from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection holding facility near McAllen, Texas to Richmond International Airport in Virginia. From there, they would be bussed to Saint Paul’s College, which has room for up to 500 UACs.
But a spokesman for HHS says that the plan is now on hold.
“The project of developing Saint Paul’s College as a site for caring for minors in the Unaccompanied Alien Children program is on hold pending community input,” Kenneth Wolfe, of HHS’s Administration of Children and Families office, told TheDC.
“Representatives from this program will be available at a community meeting this Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Brunswick Sr. High School Auditorium,” he added.
Wolfe did not clarify when asked, as a follow up, whether holding the community forum indicates a hiccup in the plan to use the campus at Saint Paul’s or is merely a normal step in the process of designating a site for the purposes of housing the child immigrants.
So far, there have been no reports of community forums being held in other cities to discuss the issue.
Some residents near Saint Paul’s have expressed concern over the pending plan.