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RICHMOND (AP) - The government has abandoned a botched plan to temporarily shelter hundreds of Central American children in a rural Virginia town, an elected official informed of the decision told The Associated Press on Friday.

The official, who was briefed in a phone call with officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke on condition of anonymity because the health agency was still informing officials in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and Brunswick County on the decision.

A spokesman for HHS said an announcement on the plan was likely Friday but did not elaborate.

The decision came after officials overseeing the placement of a deluge of children and teenagers entering the U.S. met a hostile audience Thursday night in the tobacco-growing town in southern Virginia. Many accused federal officials of keeping the community in the dark about the plan to house up to 500 children in St. Paul's College, which closed one year ago.

More than 47,000 children, primarily from Central America, have been apprehended at the Mexican border since the start of the budget year. The number of minors coming to the U.S. has soared, with administration officials saying it's largely because of conditions in their home countries. But there's also a belief among some of the migrants that they would be allowed to stay once in the U.S.

Local officials said they learned of the plan days ahead of when the first children were to arrive.

The program was put on hold after the private agreement became public. A contrite panel of federal officials repeatedly apologized to hundreds of residents Thursday night, but few were placated. Many arrived with signs reading 'No illegal immigrants.'

Aaron Smith, a Lawrenceville native who said he was a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, drew cheers when he chastised the federal officials Thursday night for attempting to 'strong-arm' the town.

Outside of the high school, Smith said in an interview that the vast majority of people 'wholeheartedly, overwhelmingly do not want this here.'

'We do not want illegal aliens in our little town,' he said.

St. Paul's President Millard 'Pete' Stith said the visiting federal officials did a good job of dispelling rumors about the planned temporary shelter 'other than they being Hispanic.'

Asked if he thought race was an issue, he said, 'Yeah.'

Stith called the shelter plan a 'win-win' - bringing federal dollars and other revenue into the town and helping keep St. Paul's propped up. He said the school, which is up for sale, will run out of money in October.

Stith said there was no intent to 'slip anything under the door,'

Stith acknowledged some 'trust issues' for not informing local officials earlier of the plan, but he said there was no intent to 'slip anything under the door.'

'But then after you apologize just forever, can there be a common ground?' he asked.

St. Paul's was founded after the Civil War to educate black men and women in the segregated South.

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