Wednesday, September 3, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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California city is latest immigration flashpoint

Immigration Overload Flashpoint

Demonstrators shove each other, Friday, July 4, 2014, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif. Demonstrators on both sides of the immigration debate had gathered where the agency was foiled earlier this week in an attempt to bus in and process some of the immigrants who have flooded the Texas border with Mexico. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

By
From page A1 | July 05, 2014 |

MURRIETA — Rumors had swirled among anti-immigration activists near a U.S. Border Patrol station in Southern California that the agency would try again to bus in some of the immigrants who have flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Instead, by late Friday afternoon, they got dueling anti- and pro-immigration rallies.

The crowd of 200 outside the station in Murrieta waved signs and sometimes shouted at each other. One banner read: “Proud LEGAL American. It doesn’t work any other way.” Another countered: “Against illegal immigration? Great! Go back to Europe!”

Law enforcement officers separated the two sides, leaving enough space for a bus to drive into the station.

It was not certain, however, that any buses would arrive on Friday. Because of security concerns, federal authorities have said, they will not publicize immigrant transfers among border patrol facilities.

Earlier this week, the city became the latest flashpoint in the intensifying immigration debate when a crowd of protesters waving American flags blocked buses carrying women and children who were flown from overwhelmed Texas facilities.

Federal authorities had hoped to process them at the station in Murrieta, about 55 miles north of downtown San Diego.

“This is a way of making our voices heard,” said Steve Prime, a resident of nearby Lake Elsinore. “The government’s main job is to secure our borders and protect us – and they’re doing neither.”

Immigration supporters said the immigrants need to be treated as humans and that migrating to survive is not a crime.

“We’re celebrating the 4th of July and what a melting pot America is,” said Raquel Alvarado, a high school history teacher and Murrieta resident who chalked up the fear of migrants in the city of roughly 106,000 to discrimination.

“They don’t want to have their kids share the same classroom,” she said.

The city’s mayor, Alan Long, became a hero to those seeking stronger immigration policies with his criticism of the federal government’s efforts to handle the influx of thousands of immigrants, many of them mothers and children.

However, Murrieta officials tried to clarify Long’s comments, saying he was only asserting that the local Border Patrol station was not an appropriate location to process the migrants and was encouraging residents to contact their federal representatives.

The July 3 statement by City Manager Rick Dudley, suggesting that protesters had come from elsewhere in Southern California, expressed regret that the busloads of women and children had been forced to turn around.

“This was not victory,” he wrote. “It was a loss for the city of Murrieta, for the community that we live in and love. It made this extremely compassionate community look heartless and uncaring. That is NOT the Murrieta that we all know and love.”

Some local leaders said the outrage among some area residents was justified, given the already stressed social services infrastructure and the stagnant regional economy.

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone said they weren’t concerned about the people on the buses. “It’s the thousands more that will follow that will strain our resources and take away the resources we need to care for our own citizens,” he said.

In recent months, thousands of children and families have fled violence, murders and extortion from criminal gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained.

The crunch on the border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley prompted U.S. authorities to fly immigrant families to other Texas cities and to Southern California for processing.

The Border Patrol is coping with excess capacity across the Southwest, and cities’ responses to the arriving immigrants have ranged from welcoming to indifferent.

In the border town of El Centro, a flight arrived Wednesday without protest.

In Nogales, Arizona, the mayor has said he welcomes the hundreds of children who are being dropped off daily at a large Border Patrol warehouse. Residents have donated clothing and other items for them.

In New Mexico, however, residents have been less enthusiastic.

At a town hall meeting this week, residents in Artesia spoke out against a detention center that recently started housing immigrants. They said they were afraid the immigrants would take jobs and resources from U.S. citizens.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Tax PayerJuly 05, 2014 - 5:22 am

    I believe you should drop them off in Washington DC and put up shelters on the White House lawn!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TweetsJuly 05, 2014 - 8:00 am

    This is the best idea I've heard so far !!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dave ShreeveJuly 05, 2014 - 9:08 am

    The AP's bias strikes again, as well as the DR's lack of editing same for fairness and accuracy. Nowhere in the article does it mention that they are protesting against ILLEGAL immigrants, not legal immigrants. The AP never bothers to mention that these are ILLEGAL immigrants streaming across the border. The AP also never mentions that the Mexican government is apparently helping to get these people up to the border, nor that there is advertising in Central America telling people that sending their kids up to the states that they will not be deported and can then send for the rest of the family to join them. Also not mentioned is the large numbers of gang members coming up from Central America along with the numerous diseases they have been carrying. Nor is it mentioned that the current administration knew about this influx before hand. Why else would they be letting out contracts for buses to transport up to 65000 people back in January?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboJuly 05, 2014 - 10:27 am

    Anti-immigrant crowd has got to be some of the dumbest people on the planet. They are blocking busses that are in the process of deporting people back to their home countries.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • We are here to stayJuly 05, 2014 - 5:29 pm

    Look the way i see it the people that dont want us here are stupid, we are always gona b here, we come to work and do the jobs that are most needed and that white people wont do. And they are the first to complain.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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