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Protesters Of Undocumented Immigrants Vow To Block New Arrivals

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Old 07.03.14, 05:30 PM
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Protesters Of Undocumented Immigrants Vow To Block New Arrivals

07.03.14 01:05 PM

MURRIETA, Calif. (MCT) — Protesters who successfully blocked immigrant detainees from reaching a Border Patrol processing facility in Murrieta earlier this week say they’re ready to do it again should federal immigration officials attempt a similar drop-off.

Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement have not said when more buses carrying undocumented immigrants may arrive at the Riverside County facility for processing, but at a Murrieta town hall meeting on the issue Wednesday night, opponents said they were resolute.

Carol Schlaepfer, an activist from Pomona who helped block three buses Tuesday in Murrieta, said she and others would organize, hopefully in greater numbers, to do it all over again.

“We’re going to be there,” she vowed. “We’re going to do the same thing, and hopefully with greater numbers of people.”

On Tuesday, a convoy of three buses carrying 140 detainees was forced by protesters to turn away from the Border Patrol facility in Murrieta.

The detainees, many of them women and children from Central America, had recently crossed the border into Texas and had been flown to San Diego by the Department of Homeland Security.

The immigrants were to be processed at the Murrieta facility before being placed under the supervision of federal agents until they were united with family members throughout the country, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE.

The arrivals had been anticipated for weeks, if not months, Border Patrol officials said.

Over the past six months, Border Patrol stations across the country have sent agents to Texas to help with patrols and process new arrivals, said Lombardo Amaya, a union representative for the Border Patrol in El Centro.

The number of children and teenagers arriving alone from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is expected to reach up to 90,000 by the end of the year, along with a surge of families with children seeking safe passage into the U.S. Many immigrants say they are fleeing violence in their home countries.

His station alone has sent dozens of agents there this year, Amaya said. Crossings in the El Centro area aren’t as frequent as they were a decade ago, he said, and are now being used to relieve the pressure from the busy Texas facilities.

But the dramatic standoff in Murrieta highlighted the current of angst over the influx and underscored the challenges the government may face as it moves to transfer immigrants away from border areas, where detention facilities are overcrowded.

At the town hall Wednesday night, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone criticized the national government, saying there was a “lack of political will to protect our borders,” adding that the issue was a Federal responsibility. He publicly demanded that Congress take action to secure the border.

However, the buses that arrived at Murrieta on Tuesday weren’t the first and likely won’t be the last, Amaya said. Immigration officials said before Tuesday’s protests that buses were expected to arrive every 72 hours, but have since declined to elaborate.

Local community groups that want to help the undocumented arrivals, as well as those who oppose their presence, said they’re digging in for the long haul.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino said it’s making arrangements with community groups to connect the migrants with relatives and provide help. The diocese expects more to arrive Friday despite this week’s protests, said spokesman John Andrews.

–Joseph Serna, Kate Linthicum and Matt Hansen
Los Angeles Times


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(Staff writer James Barragan contributed to this report.)

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(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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