“We don’t have an issue in Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a radio interview with WTOP, only after a caller asked how he plans to handle the immigration crisis now that it is affecting Virginia.
“We really only have one facility. That is the federal government contracting with a private contractor, Joe Gibbs. Joe Gibbs’ charitable organization has a facility. That’s not the state. That’s the federal government contracting with a private entity, which they’re entitled to do,” he claimed.
In mid-July, a group of unaccompanied minors were transferred from the Southwest U.S. border in Texas to a Virginia facility owned by Youth for Tomorrow, a Bristow-based Christian non-profit group established by former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.
The move was one of dozens of similar transfers across the United States in an attempt to relieve overcrowded border facilities along the Rio Grande, which have sustained a massive influx of illegal aliens crossing the border illegally since February – including more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors.
While many state governors in similar situations have spoken out against the federal government’s forced transfers, McAuliffe remained silent until last Wednesday.
On air, McAuliffe also slammed citizens and fellow Virginia lawmakers over their concern that illegal aliens could be crossing the border with diseases and unknown criminal histories, saying simply that “we’re talking about children.”
“Everyone who’s jumping up and down in arms, and I get letters from representatives saying they’re coming over with drug gangs and they’re all coming over with all different types of diseases. Let’s remember we’re talking about children here, okay? Let’s get the rhetoric down a little bit,” McAuliffe said.
At the time of the transfer, local government officials and citizens in Prince William County spoke out against the move, including the county board of supervisor’s Chairman Corey Stewart, CNSNews.com reported.
“The crisis at the border has again reached Prince William County. Without providing the county any notice, the federal government is now placing illegal immigrant children at private and perhaps federal facilities in our county,” Stewart said in a statement, according to Leesburg Today.
At the time, Stewart added that he would “ask the board tomorrow to direct the county executive to attempt to find out more about the location(s) where these children are being held and whether there is anything that the board can do to stop it.”
“While it may seem cold-hearted, it is important that these children be sent back home since letting them stay simply entices even more children to attempt the long and dangerous journey to the United States,” Stewart said.
According to Stewart, there were also “rumors” that another group of unaccompanied minors would be housed at the National Guard armory in Prince William County.
But according to McAuliffe, there is "nothing we can do at the state level" to deal with the immigration crisis, saying it is a “federal issue" and the federal government should "secure those borders."
“Immigration is a federal issue, and I would call upon the federal government to stop fooling around on this issue and pass immigration reform,” McAuliffe added. “We’ve got to secure the borders – I have always said that – deal with the folks that we have here, put a pathway together, figure out what we need to do, but we’ve got to secure those borders.
“Listen, we’ve got to be open and welcoming as a nation, but we’ve got to be smart about this, but the Congress has refused to pass immigration reform in this country,” he added, saying Congress has "kicked this can down the road.”
Since the transfer, McAuliffe’s office has not responded to CNSNews.com’s requests for comment.