AFRICANGLOBE – A wall of angry protesters blocked three buses of illegal immigrants in Southern California, forcing them to turn around — but with no clear final destination.
The immigrants had traveled from South Texas to San Diego and were on their way to be processed at the Murrieta Border Patrol station when the standoff took place Tuesday.
Protesters chanting “USA!” “Impeach Obama!” and “Deport! Deport!” blocked their route. A heated yelling match ensued between the demonstrators and a group of counterprotesters.
After the buses turned around, the 140 people on board were taken to a border station in San Ysidro, said Ron Zermeno of the National Border Patrol Council.
On Wednesday, Zermeno told reporters that at least 136 immigrants were fed and screened at the Murrieta facility. Ten children among the group were taken to local hospitals, though it’s unclear why. Seven children were diagnosed with active scabies, an itchy and highly contagious skin disease. Those children are being kept separate from the others at the San Ysidro station, he said.
An additional 17 illegal immigrants were taken to the Boulevard station in eastern San Diego County, Zermeno said.
Border Patrol officials told KGTV several children were taken to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego with unknown illnesses.
The U.S. government is struggling to process and accommodate an influx of illegal immigrants, and specifically a spike in immigrant children. The government doesn’t have enough beds, food or sanitary facilities.
Authorities estimate 60,000 to 80,000 children without parents will cross the border this year in what the White House has called an “immediate humanitarian crisis.”
To help relieve crowded facilities in Texas, undocumented immigrants are now being sent elsewhere to be processed.
But Zermeno said processing immigrants, rather than enforcing the borders, is only making the situation worse.
“My concern is they are going to be eating in the same holding cells as someone sitting 5 feet away using the bathroom,” he said.
Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden said he was told to expect 140 immigrants every 72 hours, with the next group scheduled to arrive on Friday, the Fourth of July. He encouraged the public to attend a town hall meeting Wednesday evening.
The furor in Murrieta illustrated the conflict between protecting the borders and the safety of illegal immigrant families and children.
“If these children were from Canada, we would not be having this interview,” immigration rights advocate Enrique Morones barked.
“The parents have had enough. They are saying, ‘If I don’t send my child north, they are going to die.'”
The mayor of Murrieta, Alan Long, had urged residents Monday to protest the decision to move undocumented immigrants to the area, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He spoke again Tuesday at a Murrieta City Council meeting, thanking police and others.
“Please remember these are human beings that are fleeing the violence in their home countries,” Long said. “The problem is that they need to come into this country the legal way.”
Protester Ellen Meeks said the country’s identity has eroded with an influx of undocumented immigrants.
“I just wish America would be America again because it’s not, and it’s not just pointed to the Hispanics,” Meeks said. “Everybody needs to go through the legal ways.”
MORE: California Protesters Block Transport Of Undocumented Immigrants
Anti-immigration protesters impeded the arrival of several buses transporting undocumented immigrants into a US Border Patrol station in Murrieta, California on Tuesday, some 60 miles north of San Diego.
The arrival of the group of Central American families had been decried by Murrieta’s mayor, Alan Long, who alleged that the group of immigrants, adults with their children numbering about 140 people, represented a public safety threat to the community.
Assembled protesters, who numbered 150, converged on a street leading up to an access road into the processing center, preventing the two buses from reaching the facility.
Police at the scene did not attempt to break up the demonstration, which included picket signs with messages such as “Return to sender” and “Bus illegal children to the White House,” and anti-immigration slogans. Almost a half hour into the incident, the two unmarked buses turned around and left.
A representative of the border patrol agents union said that the immigrants would likely be rerouted to one of the other six Border Patrol stations in the San Diego region. Local news reports seemed to confirm that the 140 undocumented immigrants were instead being driven to the Chula Vista Border Patrol facility in San Diego County.
The Central American immigrants had been flown to San Diego from Texas, and were on their way for processing at the Murrieta facility where US immigration officials told reporters they would be released under supervision and await deportation.
Tuesday’s incident in Murrieta highlights the influx of both families and unattended minors from Central America, which have strained the border patrol’s resources and led to the creation of several temporary processing facilities to deal with overflow conditions in Texas.
Unlike undocumented immigrants from Mexico, who are subject to immediate deportation, the latest influx of families and children feeling violence and poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are instead subject to processing by authorities.
Unaccompanied minors are the responsibility of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which is currently scrambling to create enough housing and provide basic care. Some 500,000 unattended children have crossed into the US illegally within the past year alone. The agency’s program, Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), was only meant to serve the needs of some 8,000 children per year while being processed through US immigration court.
Temporary facilities have been set up in Nogales, Arizona to cope with overflow from South Texas. Meanwhile, another group of immigrants had been driven to a similar facility in El Centro, California, some 100 miles east of San Diego.