LAWRENCEVILLE, Va. (WRIC) -
A fired up crowd demanded to know why the federal government wants to bring illegal immigrant children to their town and why no one told them.
People in Brunswick County made it known Wednesday night that they don't unaccompanied alien children (called U.A.C.'s) temporarily moving to St. Paul's College.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were on hand to explain the program and answer questions from residents. Over 1000 people were in attendance and many voiced their strong opinions.
"When did the U.S. government go into the orphanage business?" one resident asked federal officials. "By your presence here tonight, you're telling us that the federal government, via the Department of Homeland Security, has completely failed in its job of securing our borders."
Authorities estimate 60 thousand U.A.C's will enter America this year and the government is scrambling to find places for them.
St. Paul's College was on the list but local leaders say no one told them.
"No elected official from the town or county knew anything about a final contract that was being considered," said Lawrenceville Mayor-elect Bill Herrington.
"Nobody had heard about it so that's what concerned me that it was so fast," said resident Belinda Easter. "That it happened so suddenly and the county wasn't involved in it."
Wednesday night federal officials apologized for the miscommunication and announced a change.
"The proposed plan to have St. Paul's College used as a facility for the U.A.C's is on hold," said Essey Workie with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Folks at the meeting say this isn't about race but the economic impact the facility could have on the town and county, the strain it might put on resources, and there's security concerns.
"We have no idea where these children will end up while they're here and when they leave," said one resident.
Another commented, "Why should anyone's tax dollars pay for people who are not supposed to be in the country? We can not take care of our veterans!"
"We can not save the world and must focus first on children of poverty in the United States," said one resident.
Federal officials say they should they move forward with the project, children between 14-18 would be brought to Brunswick and they would only be housed 4-5 months.
How do you feel about this issue? Should the immigrant minors take shelter at Saint Paul's College? What impact do you feel it will have on the community? Leave your comment below or weigh in on our Facebook page.