Lawrenceville, VA Rejects Immigrant Children as Diseased and Criminal

This was one of the most disturbing nights of filming I have experienced in America since Oct. 16, 2007 in Prince William County, VA (when, after 12 hours of heated public testimony, the Board of County Supervisors voted to fund a law requiring police to check immigration status based on a "probable cause" standard dangerously close to mandatory racial profiling).

On the day after the Lawrenceville incident, I was interviewed on MSNBC to report on what I had witnessed.

Prior to going on the air, I wrote this in an email to 9500 Liberty & Story of America co-director Annabel Park and Police Chief Charlie Deane (ret.) of Prince William County, VA:

I filmed the entire town hall event last night. I met the Sheriff and gave him two copies of the film. I also gave a copy of the film to the Mayor-elect and a county supervisor. The story in Lawrenceville is a lot more complex than "look how racist people can be" and also more complex than "country folk just hate the federal government" although I saw a lot of that too.

It seems that the administrator of the now-defunct college down there signed an agreement with the federal government to house these unaccompanied minors on the campus, without informing the local elected officials or the People. They have a right to be upset about the lack of transparency. I only counted 2 people who stood up to defend the idea of helping these young people in 3 and 1/2 hours (but I did step out for a while with 1 camera rolling).

There are programs like this all over the country with no incidents of immigrant minors escaping and going on crime sprees. Other concerns included the notion that they might not actually be minors but instead could be 26-year-old gang members. Also, the volunteer fire chief said that the college's buildings were not up to fire standards, and that people from South and Central America are likely to carry diseases, and he was concerned that his fire fighters could either die fighting a fire in a building that is not up to code, or catch and spread diseases in the process (!?).

Many things were said that made me cringe. Put them in the closed-down jail instead of the closed-down college campus for instance. And in general comments were expressed with a show-boating style of hatred that was cheered on by hundreds in the audience. I think under these circumstances, people could be found to come out and behave like this in most parts of the country.

I told the Sheriff and the County Supervisor that the danger here was that someone or some organization would swoop in with a policy or a campaign that would exploit the fears and the emotions that this controversy has stirred up.

UPDATE:  A month later it became apparent that the "someone or some organization" that would exploit fear and emotion for political gain was the US House of Representatives.  With a midterm election only a few months away, I should have predicted it. 


Showing 13 reactions


commented 2014-07-26 18:45:45 -0400
Can this country support 157,000 more? Because if we agree to this invasion, & make no mistake, it’s an invasion, than that’s a green light to those who will send more. Do you pay taxes, Bill? Than it’s your money that’s supporting this. The Republicans are blaming Obama-I don’t know if they’re correct. But the American people resent this invasion. I reset it. More parasites I’d what this nation doesn’t need.
commented 2014-07-26 18:43:38 -0400
Can this country support 157,000 more? Because if we agree to this invasion, & make no mistake, it’s an invasion, than that’s a green light to those who will send more. Do you pay taxes, Bill? Than it’s your money that’s supporting this. The Republicans are blaming Obama-I don’t know if they’re correct. But the American people resent this invasion. I reset it. More parasites I’d what this nation doesn’t need.
commented 2014-07-26 18:36:42 -0400
They realize that this country can’t sustain these illigals anymore. They didn t want them there because they know more would be coming. As for ALL of us/being immigrants, my parents came here in 1955. I watched my father work 7 days a week. They didn ‘t come EXPECTING to be given to & coddled.
The people of Lawrenceville are thinking ahead-they know what accepting this invasion represents. Why don’t you?
commented 2014-07-26 16:35:22 -0400
Now what other way is this broke Lawrenceville community going to make money? They had their say at their town hall with their different opinions, and ran the government officials away. Another community will take advantage of that opportunity and will make a ton of money from the Government. Lawerenceville will continue to be without a college and NOTHING else. People there are not thinking with their pockets just with their emotions. I guess they have gotten use to being BROKE.
commented 2014-07-26 16:28:38 -0400
These folks are so closed minded they could easily turn this into a money maker for their community. That is why there is nothing in that area anymore. They lost the prison, now a college. They had the opportunity to use that to sell food Government, utilities, medical, gas…So if they want to remain with nothing and stay stupid that is what the people in Lawrenceville deserves.
commented 2014-07-26 09:42:09 -0400
I am sick to my stomach to watch the people of Brunswick County be so close minded. People need to realize that the majority of us all are immigrants whether if we came here by choice or by force.
commented 2014-07-22 18:40:10 -0400
If you swamp the life boat, the life boat will sink. That is what’s happening. We can’t fund all of this no matter how much we may want to.
commented 2014-07-09 14:20:34 -0400
They are not wanted here. Our own Vets are DYI NG waiting for health care & these aliens come & funds are immediately found. Send them back over the border. Let Mexico deal w/ them.
commented 2014-07-09 14:20:20 -0400
They are not wanted here. Our own Vets are DYI NG waiting for health care & these aliens come & funds are immediately found. Send them back over the border. Let Mexico deal w/ them.
commented 2014-06-26 11:54:58 -0400
Until it happens in your back yard, then have an opinion.
commented 2014-06-26 00:07:10 -0400
This doesn’t make me feel very patriotic but somewhat embarrassed as an American. It’s clear to me that our education system and our news media are failing us. We seem to be losing the fight of information and ideas. Your video work is sorely needed.
commented 2014-06-25 16:49:07 -0400
“Inscription on the Statue of Liberty” Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door. Author: Emma Lazarus
commented 2014-06-25 10:39:17 -0400
Behavior precursor to fascism. History repeats itself.