Anti-Immigrant Protestors in California Block Buses of Immigrant Detainees
Hundreds of residents of Murrieta, California protested the influx of immigrant detainees being bused into the city Tuesday by surrounding the buses and preventing them from reaching a Border Patrol station in the city.
There were so many protesters that the buses were forced to turn around, according to The Los Angeles Times. The buses were carrying around 140 undocumented immigrant detainees from Texas, most of whom were children accompanied by mothers and fathers.
Police officers could not keep the protesters from blocking the path of the buses. Instead, the buses had to drop the immigrants off at a Border Patrol facility in San Diego County.
The protests came a day after Mayor Alan Long told residents of the city to protest the federal government's decision to move the immigrants to the Border Patrol facility in the city due to an overflow of immigrants at Texas immigration detention centers. Detention facilities in Texas have been overflowing due to a surge in unaccompanied migrant children crossing into the United States from Central America.
"Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities," Long said Monday at a news conference, according to the LA Times.
Long added that new arrivals of immigrants were to arrive every 72 hours for several weeks. He added that they were to be processed at the Murrieta facility before being placed under the supervision of ICE agents.
Border Patrol agents have detained more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors in recent weeks, mostly along the Rio Grande near the Texas border. Due to the influx in unaccompanied children, Border Patrol agents are sending immigrants to areas with less migrants crossing over the border, such as Southern California. Migrants are also being sent to El Centro and New Mexico.
The high numbers of unaccompanied migrant children come to the U.S. from countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, which are countries plagued by high crime rates and poor economies. Luis Serrano, Communications Associate for the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, told Latin Post that the high numbers of unaccompanied migrant children should be addressed by reforming U.S. foreign policies and free trade agreements.
"I think most migrants are here for one reason or another, but it is all almost forced," he said.
Mayor Long also said that the federal government is not enforcing immigration laws properly by not deporting undocumented immigrants immediately.
However, Serrano told Latin Post that undocumented immigrants are permitted to lawfully stay in the United States.
"Under U.N refugee status they are allowed to stay here, and they need to be sent to child care services. The mayor of Murrieta is wrong; Obama is actually trying to fund border states to make deportation rapidly, and have the kids be taken out of here," Serrano said. "He is even trying to change a law that protects them to have them moved away faster."
Long also emphasized that the immigrants' stay would be temporary.
"There is not, and never has been, any intention to release these immigrants locally out the front door of the Border Patrol office," he said.
Roger Cotton, 49, drove from San Diego to protest outside the Murrieta Border Patrol Station.
"I wanted to say that I as an American citizen do not approve of this human disaster that the government has created," Cotton told the LA Times. He said he believes the migrants who were supposed to be dropped off at the station would be a burden on an already strained system.
"Who's going to pay for them?" he asked. "What kind of criminality will happen?"
Cotton says he blames Democrats for not securing the border.
The protesters stood with signs and American flags while blocking the buses, and chanted "USA" to a group of counter-protesters who were there to support the incoming immigrants.
Lupillo Rivera, 42, a Mexican immigrant who came to the U.S. at the age of four, said he was driving by the protest when someone shouted at him that he was an illegal immigrant. Rivera, a citizen of the U.S. who is the brother of late Mexican singer Jenni Rivera, went home, got some of his friends and went back to confront the anti-immigration protesters.
"Our people cook your food," he shouted at them.
"We didn't ask for them to come here," one protester retorted.
"It doesn't matter where a child is from," Rivera said. "He deserves respect and help because he's a child."
At a City Council meeting that night, officials commended protesters for not inciting violence while condemning the actions of the federal government.
"We need to fix this permanently," said Long. "Today was a Band-Aid. The only people with the power to fix this are in the federal government."
At the meeting, city officials voiced their concerns about how Murrieta, a city of a little more than 100,000, will house the immigrants.
Other city council people criticized the detention facility, saying it looks like a jail.
Councilman Harry Ramos expressed his doubt that the detainees would report back to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days of their release.
"You would get fined if you dumped off a dog in the street here in Murrieta, but that's what they are doing to people here," he said.
Serrano said the people of Murreta are ill-informed about immigration policies, and do not understand the real reasons why the immigration crisis is occurring.
Serrano also said leaders of both political parties are "playing" the American people, and that Democrats cannot necessarily be blamed for the ongoing crisis.
"The political leaders of these areas fail to inform people and spread lies and fear, when in reality Obama has been aiding the right wing more than any president," he said.
He added that undocumented immigrants should not be deported to their home countries due to the countries' dangerous environments.
"The most depressing part is these anti immigrants trying to turn them away to a place where they will die," Serrano added. "We should care about all humans, and all people seeking to be cared for."
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!