Week in Review: Undocumented children reach VA, but feds keep tight lips


By Kaitlyn Speer | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

Gov. McAuliffe remains silent, despite repeated requests for response about immigration issue

Alexandria, Va.–The flood of undocumented children crossing the border reached a Virginia county this week, and no one in the state government seems to have a response. At least, a federal spokesperson refused Watchdog.org information on the immigrant kids and Gov. Terry McAuliffe has remained silent on the subject. Here is your week in review.

Flood of undocumented children crossing border reaches Virginia county

It was only a matter of time before some of the thousands of undocumented children flooding the United States border reached Virginia.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, R-Woodbridge, confirmed via social media and his office that the Bristow-based nonprofit Youth For Tomorrow is contracting with the feds to house undocumented minors.

Watchdog.org called Youth For Tomorrow, which offered a number that connected to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When Watchdog.org called the organization again, Youth For Tomorrow said it’s making “no comment” at this time.

But that was only the beginning.

Federal rep refuses Watchdog.org info on immigrant kids, McAuliffe remains silent

The Administration for Children and Families refused to tell Watchdog.org where in Virginia it has placed any illegal immigrant children flooding the border — or where it plans to send any more.

Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director at the Office for Public Affairs for the Administration for Children and Families, which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services, said they “do not identify” regular or permanent shelters “for the safety and security of minors and staff at the facilities.” Wolfe has yet to return Watchdog.org’s call for further information.

Watchdog.org has also attempted to contact McAuliffe’s office on the issue since Tuesday, but his press team has yet to reply and are habitually unresponsive to requests from Watchdog.org.

Audit: Virginia’s Emergency Management has internal disasters to fix

While immigration issues made headlines this week, Watchdog.org also first reported that Virginia’s Emergency Management has internal disasters to fix, according to a recent state audit.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has a pervasive internal fiscal management problem, allowing staff to make questionable use of their fuel charge cards, poorly control petty cash funds, and even spend way more than double the agency’s fiscal 2013 budget, according to the audit.

VDEM’s budget often fluctuates, but the original $47 million budget was overspent by more than $70 million because the agency had to catch up on processing grants and projects from years past, according to the audit.

One employee, VDEM’s public assistance supervisor, identified by VDEM as Nealia Dabney, even racked up nearly 3,700 hours of overtime in just three years without even getting proper approval — an “excessive amount of overtime” that raises lots of questions, the audit said.

Virginia GOP candidate rails against ‘inflated’ streetcar campaign

Elsewhere in Virginia, a GOP General Assembly candidate in Democrat-heavy Arlington County is challenging a controversial streetcar project, despite McAuliffe attempting to sweeten the deal with up to $65 million in new state funding.

“I will introduce legislation to give voters a right to say whether they want (the streetcars) or not,” said David Foster, who is running to fill the House of Delegates seat vacated by Bob Brink.

Without a referendum, Arlingtonians dissed the project this year by electing independent John Vihstadt to the county board on an anti-streetcar platform. Still, a Democratic majority controls the purse strings.

“If the facts were on the board’s side, they wouldn’t need to be spending $650,000 on public relations,” Foster told Watchdog.org.

Kaitlyn Speer is an intern for Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau. She can be reached at kspeer@watchdog.org or on twitter at @KSpeer11.