Tensions Eddy In Murrieta After Protesters Turn Back Buses Of Migrants

The California city of Murrietta is embroiled in unrest, as anti-illegal immigration protesters have successfully blocked three buses transferring migrants from Texas to a local Border Patrol screening facility.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I am Robert Siegel. Now to the immigration crisis facing border states. In Southern California yesterday, activists blocked three buses carrying migrants to a border patrol station north of San Diego. The detainees, mostly women and children, had been flown to California from overcrowded facilities in Texas. In a moment, we'll hear from the Texas mayor about the situation there. First NPR's Kirk Siegler has more on what happened in California, where tensions remain high.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Police say more than 100 protesters blocked the road in Murrieta, 60 miles north of San Diego. Three buses carry 140 migrants were trying to reach a local border patrol station. The buses turned around as protesters held signs reading, stop illegal immigration, and chanted things like, go home, and USA.

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CROWD: (Chanting) USA. USA.

SIEGLER: The protests, captured on amateur video and uploaded on social media sites, continued into the night, with several dozen immigrant rights activists later gathering on the opposite side of the street.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You came here illegally. You don't have...

SIEGLER: The protests followed statements by the city's mayor, Alan Long, earlier in the week. He said he was frustrated to learn of plans to start bussing immigrant detainees to a processing facility in Murrieta. The city says it had twice before thwarted similar plans to bring nearly 800 migrants, arguing that local authorities would be overwhelmed.

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MAYOR ALAN LONG: Murrieta expects out federal government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities.

SIEGLER: It's clear the situation unfolding in Murrieta is about a lot more than three buses. Mayor Long says he was told by immigration authorities that detainees would be sent to the local processing facility every 72 hours, at least for the next several weeks. That appears to on hold for now. A spokeswoman for Homeland Security told NPR today that the agency would not provide any new information about its plans, saying their property is to make sure the migrants are safe. For now, many city officials are sympathetic to the anti-illegal immigrant legal protesters.

KIMBERLY DAVIDSON: The residents, and I think the United States as a whole, is tired of being lied to by the federal government. And it's just at a boiling point now.

SIEGLER: Kimberly Davidson is the city spokeswoman.

DAVIDSON: Things continue to be tense. We are more than equipped to handle the protests if they escalate or turn violent, which we will do everything in our power to not allow that to happen.

SIEGLER: In an attempt to cool the tensions, the city is planning a town hall meeting tonight. Kirk Siegler, NPR News.

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