A Riverside County town greeted a group of undocumented immigrants transferred into the city Tuesday by blocking the road to prevent the federal bus carrying them from entering a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility.
The first group out of an estimated 140 total was flown from detention facilities in Texas to San Diego, then taken by bus to Murrieta, where some local residents camped out to protest beginning early in the morning.
When the buses arrived just after 2 p.m., a vocal group of protesters carrying signs and draped in American flags blocked the buses filled with families who were detained after entering the the country illegally in Texas.
The three buses turned around and headed south on the 15 Freeway to an undisclosed location.
The plan was for the immigrants will be given background checks before being reunited with family members across the country while their cases are processed. Authorities said most of the immigrants are families, and the move is designed to ease overcrowding at border facilities strained by an influx of unaccompanied children that have flooded the system.
City leaders in Murrieta oppose the transfers, saying it’s a burden on their town and raises safety concerns.
In a statement on his Facebook page Monday, Mayor Alan Long said while he continues to oppose the use of Murrieta’s facilities to handle the transfers, he and other city officials have put together a system of checks to ensure the community’s safety.
“… This decision was made by the federal government and is not within our local authority to change. Clearly, this is a failed system that is spreading the cost and needed resources to handle these situations on the backs of local communities. Nevertheless, we must react and put a plan in place,” he said in the statement.
Randon Lane, a Murrieta city councilman, stressed that the families will be reunited with relatives already in the U.S.
“They have to know the person, so (officials) are calling them up and verifying the information and that’s where they’re sending them,” he said.
After leaving the processing center, the immigrants will be taken to transportation centers, and nonprofits and several Central American consulates are expected to help fund the last leg of transport.