Virginia Senator Praises Bristow Facility Housing Migrant Children - NBC4 Washington

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Virginia Senator Praises Bristow Facility Housing Migrant Children

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    Senator Tours Va. Facility Housing Migrant Children

    Virginia Sen. Mark Warner toured a facility in Bristow on Wednesday that houses migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. News4's David Culver reports. 

    (Published Wednesday, June 27, 2018)

    Virginia Sen. Mark Warner toured a facility in Northern Virginia that houses migrant children and praised what he saw on Wednesday.

    Fifteen migrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border are housed at Youth for Tomorrow in Bristow, Virginia, News4 learned. Forty miles outside D.C., the private facility has a contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Warner toured Youth for Tomorrow for about an hour, as reporters were made to wait off the property. The senator said he was pleased by what he saw.

    “These kids are being taken care of in a clean and appropriate environment. They’re getting the health care and the education they need," Warner said.

    The children have been in touch with their loved ones but not yet reunited. Warner said he wants President Donald Trump to expedite that process.

    “This problem was created because this president arbitrarily used power to put in place a zero tolerance policy that the American people revolted against. And this president showed that he could change that policy with simply the use of his own pen. Luckily, he did that," Warner said.

    Images HHS released last week of the interior of the facility show children playing basketball and sitting in an auditorium. According to Youth for Tomorrow's website, the facility has a 215-acre campus with seven residential units for boys and girls.

    "Every home reflects the environment of a typical family home — a living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, showers, a kitchen, laundry room, and an office for residential counselors and house coordinators/parents," the site says.

    A Christian boarding school also is run on the campus.

    More than 1,500 miles from the border, emotions ran high as Warner toured the facility. A woman protested outside, wearing a sign that said "Free the Children. Imprison Trump the Traitor." One man yelled in defense of Youth for Tomorrow, calling them good neighbors. Another man shouted that Warner should do more to prevent illegal immigration.

    As Warner praised the facility in Bristow, a facility in Staunton, Virginia, that houses migrant children faced serious allegations.

    Children included in a federal civil rights lawsuit charge that guards at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center beat them, locked them up for long periods in solitary confinement and left them nude and shivering in concrete cells.

    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told News4 on Wednesday that state officials have interviewed several children living there.

    “It’s something we’re paying a lot of attention to, and we have an ongoing investigation," he said.

    A Honduran teen told The Associated Press that guards attacked him, stopped bringing him food and sent him to solitary confinement.

    "I was just crying and praying to see my mother one more time," said the 18-year-old immigrant, who gave his firsthand account to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared the government might retaliate against him for speaking publicly. "I ended up getting put in solitary confinement for no reason."

    He arrived at Shenandoah in the summer of 2016 when he was 16 years old — during part of the time period covered by allegations in the lawsuit, which spans both the Obama and Trump administrations.

    The center's director has denied that children were abused at the facility. The facility and its attorney did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for details about the teen's case.

    The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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