St. Paul's College being considered for youth immigrant shelter - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

St. Paul's College being considered for youth immigrant shelter

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LAWRENCEVILLE, VA (WWBT) -

One solution to the growing number of immigrant children crossing the border could be in Central Virginia. St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville is in talks with the federal government to become a temporary shelter. That news is meeting mixed reaction from the community. 

An auction notice posted outside of campus advises passers-by that St. Paul's College is still up for sale. That's to find a long-term owner, but talks are underway to find a temporary occupant as well.

 

Thursday, the quaint campus - void of any students since its shutdown last year - welcomed federal government officials on site to take a tour. After the college lost accreditation, administrators have been working to hand over the property to the highest bidder - but so far, no plausible options.

    

Now, the college may be used to house some 500 children up to 17 years old who have illegally crossed the border on their own.

 

"If these children are going to be here, we can't just abandon them," said immigration attorney Emily Sumner.

 

She believes this is a good first step in addressing a serious concern.

 

"I think we have a responsibility to help these folks. I'm not saying we need to open the borders and let anyone and everyone in but I think we really got to make a systematic, comprehensive assessment of the system we have now and make some changes that would allow for more opportunities," Sumner added.

 

Over at Dream World Hair Salon, just across from the campus, the reaction isn't as positive.

 

"I am perplexed. I am surprised they would do that," said Queen Jones.

 

"It's kind of a win-lose situation because you don't know what the kids have been through and you don't know what it's going to put the people in this community through for them to be here," said Vonda Barnes.

 

A source tells NBC 12 part of the negotiations involve on-site security to ensure a safe environment.

 

"We {Brunswick County} don't have the cash flow and that's one of the reasons St. Paul's has shut down. Now, the federal government is going to bring people here? If that's the case the federal government should have tried to keep St. Paul's open," Barnes added.

 

If the deal goes through, the site could begin welcoming those immigrant children as soon as July 1st. Officials with the college are not commenting on the proposal at this time - only confirming the talks are happening.

    

Bids to purchase St. Paul's College have been extended through the 25th of June.

 

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