National Debate on Immigration Sparks Protests in Verona

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The national debate over what to do with thousands of undocumented children from Central America fueled those counter protests in Verona Saturday, after word that some of those children are being housed in the valley.

The counter protests started at 11’o'clock Saturday morning.

Word spread quickly on social media and many people showed up representing each side of this debate.

The national debate on immigration came to a head on the 612 overpass in Verona Saturday. Protestors on both sides of the issue showed up to raise awareness and support.

Protestor Suzanne Curran said, "This is my country, and I really do believe that our federal government is finishing the job the Cartel start."

Protester Linda Royster said, "To think of deporting these children back to what may be, and probably is horrendous situation, without an individual due process examination of their situation is just wrong and that's not what this country should be about."

The Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center has 30 spots for children in the federal government's unattended children program. Seven of those spots are currently held by children from Central America who recently crossed the border illegally into the U.S.

Protestor Carter Puzanskas said, "I think people are being very cold-hearted about the seven children who have come to the detention center here in Staunton, and I'm not in favor of that kind of response to children who are in desperate need.”

Those children are just a few of the 57,000 apprehended by border patrol since October. But their presence in the Shenandoah Valley is what's sparking these protests.

"There are thousands of people across this country including me who are willing to care for a child while they go through the immigration process I'm not saying the law shouldn't apply to these children, I'm saying the law should apply to these children,” said Royster.

Churchville Resident Terry Adams said, "The children are merely anchors to bring in more, they bring in the children and play on people's sympathies, all the poor children blah blah blah and then we set them up and give them residence here, and then they bring in their family.”

The facility is jointly run by several cities and counties in the valley.

Augusta County's county administrator tells our news partners at the News Virginian that the federal contract to house up to 30 undocumented children at a time was signed five years ago.

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