Youth For Tomorrow’s Chief Executive Officer Gary L. Jones said Monday he expects most of the 15 migrant children recently brought to the Bristow facility after being separated from parents or relatives at the U.S. border will be reunited with their families within two weeks.
The nonprofit, launched by former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs in 1986, is housing 15 immigrant children between the ages of 10 and 17 who were forcibly separated since April from their families at the border by U.S. government officials as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” for those entering the country at unauthorized crossing points.
Youth For Tomorrow has been in contact with 14 of the 15 families involved. Jones said he anticipates all the children will be returned to their families in about two weeks.
“We will reunite them with their families,” he said.
Most of the adults who traveled to the U.S. with the children in the nonprofit's care have been released from government custody but not deported from the U.S., Jones said.
The Prince William/Gainesville Times has not been able to independently verify that the reunifications are pending.
Located on Linton Hall Road, Youth For Tomorrow has been caring for immigrant teens for six years under a federal contract. But until recently, those were teens who arrived at the border on their own, without a parent or guardian.
The organization also works to reunite children in those situations with family members.
“That’s what we do here is reunite children with their families,” Jones said.
Senator confirms YFT housing kids separated from parents
Until Friday it had been unclear if Youth For Tomorrow was housing children separated from their families. A day before, images of the facility were featured on national news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC as a possible shelter for some of the more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their families at the U.S. border since the new policy went into effect.
Youth For Tomorrow issued a statement Thursday about its history of housing immigrant teens who have crossed the border without a parent or guardian. The nonprofit has served as a shelter for such youngsters for six years. The statement did not explicitly disclose the recent arrival of children separated from their parents at the border.
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D) visited Youth For Tomorrow for about two hours. Kaine didn’t know in advance that immigrant children separated from their parents at the border were in Youth For Tomorrow’s care.
“We, like everyone else, had heard reports,” a spokeswoman from his office said.
Kaine went to the facility with a member of his staff. He spoke with some of the children in Spanish and left feeling they were being “appropriately cared for,” according to member of the senator’s staff.
Some of the children he met with were girls. They were between the ages of 10 and 17 and had arrived since April, the staff member said.
Kaine asked Youth For Tomorrow staff how the children were doing, and they confirmed many had been “traumatized” by their experiences, Kaine’s staff said in an email.
In a statement after his visit, Kaine said he is grateful to Youth For Tomorrow staff for the opportunity to visit the facility as well as what he called their “focus” on reuniting the children with their families.
Kaine called on the Trump administration to identify each facility holding immigrant children separated from their families and to open them to elected officials for inspection.
President Trump last week signed an executive order ending the policy that resulted in the separations, but critics of the administration remained concerned about whether federal officials have the ability or information needed to reunite children with their parents.
“The Trump administration needs to assure us that every single one of the children they separated from their parents is quickly and safely returned to their families,” Kaine’s statement said.
“The first step toward that goal is identifying where every child is being held -- releasing a list of those facilities -- and letting members of Congress visit all of those locations.”
“I’m thankful that Youth for Tomorrow allowed me to visit today and appreciate the organization’s focus on family reunification,” he added. “The fact that HHS isn’t being transparent about many other facilities across the country makes me worry about the conditions that many of these kids are facing.”
Jill Palermo contributed to this report. Reach Jonathan Hunley at email@example.com.