A North Carolina county unanimously passed a strongly worded resolution Tuesday night calling on the federal government to step up border security and to keep unaccompanied migrant children apprehended at the southern border out of its county, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. Officials in Surry County have indicated that the influx of children could put a strain on county resources and claim that children could carry “serious disease.” Surry County joins a handful of other localities that are raising public security and health concerns as the federal government scrambles to find cities to host shelters for children.
Surry County Board of Commissioner Larry Phillips expressed fear that children could pose problems for “educational funding, resources, campus security, public health, and safety infrastructure, as well as all county resources.” The resolution, which is merely symbolic and doesn’t carry legal force, blames the President’s “implementation of DACA,” an executive action that granted temporary legal presence to some undocumented immigrants as “the impetus that started the flow of minor children to the United States.” The resolution would also “uphold the laws of the land, cease any practices that would encourage minors and adults fleeing to this country for economic reasons… and refrain from any unaccompanied minors and adults in Surry County.”
“How are we going to protect these children? Are they going to become victims of sex trafficking? Are they carrying viruses?” Phillips said, according to Mt Airy News. “I don’t feel like these concerns are misplaced. If a child comes here carrying a serious disease, without any oversight of their health and welfare, there’s nothing we can do about it until someone gets sick.”
But while two other North Carolina counties, Rowan and Brunswick recently passed similar resolutions, about 1,429 migrant children have already been placed with sponsors elsewhere in the state. Some are starting school in places like Charlotte’s Mecklenburg Schools, which has already begun preparing for student enrollment.
Some residents have been hostile to the idea of placing children within the state. The state’s governor Pat McCrory claimed last month that the children may have communicable diseases. This in spite of the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement stated in the past that the organization doesn’t release children who have contagious conditions and that children receive vaccinations and medical screenings. The North Carolina chapter of the Ku Klux Klan held a protest in Troy, North Carolina earlier this month calling on local residents to “save our land, join the Klan.” And four Democrats on the Dare County’s board narrowly defeated a resettlement resolution last month to “refrain from housing any illegal unaccompanied minors or adults.”
The issue has proven less contentious in neighboring South Carolina where the Columbia City Council passed a resolution last month to welcome unaccompanied immigrant children.