Pro- and anti-immigration protesters in tense standoff in Murrieta (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Tensions remain high near the United States’ border with Mexico, where an influx of illegal immigrants in recent months, mostly children, has divided the community.
Anti-immigration demonstrators continue to stand guard in the small southern California town of Murrieta, where upwards of 150 activists assembled last week to prevent the arrival of three buses carrying undocumented aliens scheduled for processing from reaching a local US Border Control station around 60 miles north of San Diego.
A standoff between anti- and pro-immigration protesters continued through the weekend, and initial reports suggested that federal officials were rumored to be weighing the possible deployment of riot police to accompany further busses this week. Those reports have so far failed to materialize, but activists are nevertheless remaining on the scene to wait and see what will happen next, and fears of clashes occurring between both sides persist.
Arrests have indeed occurred during the last week as protesters’ verbal remarks became replaced in some instances with physical altercations, and a Border Patrol spokesperson told the Daily News that further demonstrators could expect to be detained if they block the route of any other federal busses, like the ones that last week that were unable to bring immigrants into Murrieta. According to Breitbart News, anti-immigration demonstrators have begun to circulate flyers warning protesters that they should expected to be arrested and prepare accordingly.
"Should protestors block entry or exits to CBP property, local law enforcement will be called to respond," the federal spokesperson told the paper.
Veronique Dupont, a journalist with AFP, wrote this week that protesters opposed to the influx — and the use of the federal government and taxpayer money to remedy the migration — show no signs of letting up.
"Why not have all the oppressed children from Sudan or Ukraine or China come here as well?” one local protester, Greg Allison, asked AFP sarcastically.
"They should have been quarantined in Texas," added another, 71-year-old Dan Russell, who told Dupont that the children crossing into the US are carrying polio and the H1N1 flu virus.
Countering the droves of activists opposed to using federal money and facilities to process the undocumented immigrants are demonstrators who say that the children traveling en masse across the border should be considered refugees. Demonstrators on that side of the argument have reportedly since garnered the support of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the US, whose members have been seen at the latest rallies in and around border towns. Advocates who want the children to be accepted into the US warn that minors are being tortured in their home countries, and that American officials shouldn’t be expediting their return, but welcoming them.
It’s been largely reported that more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have been detained since last October while attempting to sneak across the border into the US — double the statistics from the previous year.
The White House is next expected to ask Congress for $3.8 billion largely intended to find fund measures intended to deal with the influx, including the hiring of more immigration judges. Nevertheless, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday that most of those thousands of children who crossed into the US recently would likely not be eligible to stay and would soon be sent back to the other side of the border.
And while no busses did arrive in Murrieta as expected on Monday carrying immigrants to be processed, Texas Governor Rick Perry told the White House that day that a proposed yet brief meeting with president this week as the commander-in-chief tours the state would not suffice, and that the two must engage in a “a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.”
Within hours, Valerie Jarrett, a senior aide to Mr. Obama, wrote the governor once again to invite him to discuss the crisis with the president, local elected officials and faith leaders during this week’s stop in the Lone Star State.
Now as a standoff between pro- and anti-immigration activists rages on, Pres. Obama will for the first time address the matter directly when he meets with those close to the crisis later this week.
“As you know, the administration continues to address this urgent humanitarian situation with a whole-of-government response on both sides of the border,” Jarrett wrote Perry on Tuesday this week. “This includes appropriate care for unaccompanied children, as well as aggressive steps to surge resources to the Southwest border to deter both adults and children from embarking on this dangerous journey, increasing capacity for enforcement and removal proceedings, and quick return of recent unlawful border crossers to their home countries after appropriate humanitarian screenings have taken place and they are determined to be removable.”