MURRIETA – Protesters gathered again yesterday in Murrieta to stand off buses loaded with migrants slated for processing at a federal facility.
According to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, 140 asylum seekers are scheduled to be brought to the Border Patrol station in the southwest Riverside County city every three days.
The undocumented immigrants have been identified by the government as citizens of Central American countries fleeing to the U.S. to escape unspecified conflicts. Immigration reform advocates have told City News Service there’s no way to know for certain who the migrants are, or where they’re from, without in-depth background checks.
According to the Obama administration, the transferees are being transported from Border Patrol facilities in south Texas, where around 40,000 have surrendered at the U.S.-Mexico border since the beginning of the year.
A group of immigrants were flown into Lindbergh Field in San Diego late this morning and then bused to a U.S. Border Patrol facility in San Ysidro for processing.
Last Tuesday, an initial group of 140 arrived in San Diego and were driven to Murrieta, where crowds of protesters blocked their entrance to a USBP facility, prompting authorities to take them instead to San Ysidro.
The departure from the Riverside area marked a victory for the roughly 150 demonstrators who decried the foreigners’ arrival there, many waving flags and others carrying signs reading ”Stop Illegal Immigration” and ”Return to Sender.”
Protesters have continued gathering at the Border Patrol facility, and some clashed with police Friday while waiting to see if more migrants would be arriving.
According to ICE officials, many of the transferees will be freed to stay with friends, family and sympathetic groups until their cases can be adjudicated.
Ira Mehlman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform and William Gheen with Americans for Legal Immigration both told CNS last week that the transfers appeared to be politically motivated, instigated by the Obama administration to intensify pressure on Congress to pass immigration reform measures that many opponents have blasted as backdoor amnesty.
Mehlman said the president’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy initiative has served as an ”inducement” for undocumented immigrants to make a mad dash across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials initially set Riverside County as the end point for processing the migrants.
Murrieta Mayor Alan Long, who has criticized federal officials over the transfers, told residents during a town hall meeting last week that the city had coordinated with the Border Patrol to ensure that the anticipated influx didn’t create an untenable situation locally.