MURRIETA, Calif. - 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 immigrants who have flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border.
MURRIETA, Calif. — 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 immigrants who have flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Instead, by late yesterday afternoon, they got dueling anti- and pro-immigration rallies.
The crowd of 200 outside the station in Murrieta waved signs and sometimes shouted at one another. One banner read: “Proud LEGAL American. It doesn’t work any other way.”
Another countered: “Against illegal immigration? Great! Go back to Europe!”
Officers separated the two sides and contained them on one approach to the station, leaving open an approach from the opposite direction It was unclear, however, whether any buses would arrive yesterday, and by late afternoon many demonstrators were leaving.
Six people were arrested, five for interfering with police who were investigating a fight and one for disorderly conduct, police said.
This week, the city became the latest flashpoint in the immigration debate when a crowd with American flags blocked buses carrying women and children 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, 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 Fourth of July, and what a melting pot America is,” said Raquel Alvarado, a high-school history teacher and Murrieta resident who chalked up fear in the city of about 106,000 to discrimination. “They don’t want to have their kids share the same classroom.”
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.
However, Murrieta officials tried to clarify, saying Long was only pointing out that the local Border Patrol station wasn’t a good place to process the migrants.
A Thursday statement by City Manager Rick Dudley expressed regret that the busloads 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.”
Recently, thousands of children and families have fled violence and extortion from gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Since October, over 52,000 unaccompanied kids have been detained.