Murrieta, Calif., Mayor Alan Long: Immigration System Luring Illegals to US

Sunday, 06 Jul 2014 01:04 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Murrieta, Calif., Mayor Alan Long says his city, which made headlines this week when protestors blocked busloads of illegal migrants being transferred to a local facility, is paying the price for a very ill-planned U.S. immigration policy.

"What I'm telling you right now, if those buses were to arrive here tomorrow, and enter the Border facility, you would see what Murrieta is known for, and that is a caring, compassionate community," Long told CNN "State of the Union" host Candy Crowley Sunday.

But that does not mean Long and the community don't have concerns about the immigrants that are being brought in from Texas, and that they don't have their concerns about what's led to the influx.

Long said his town of about 106,000 is a "very small town with a national problem on our doorsteps. We have local residents with legitimate concerns."

However, the mayor said he believes that most of the people who were protesting the bus full of immigrant women and children were not from Murrieta.

A major concern, Long said, was whether there would be proper facilities to take care of the immigrants and how long they would be staying, "and those were questions that we just didn't get any answers to."

He pointed out that the city's police department did intervene for the safety of those on the buses, but the film clips don't show that Murrieta's police department "did not have the equipment nor the staffing to deal with the crowd."

Mutual aid was on its way, said Long, but the U.S. Border Patrol "made the decision to divert the buses before that mutual aid showed up."

Long said the Border Patrol processing facility in Murrieta is not sufficient to process large numbers of immigrants, which he calls "inhumane."

"It's a jail cell," he said. "I inspected them personally. That facility can only process 25 per eight-hour shift, and if you look at the numbers we're talking about, I think immigrants would have been queued up in a facility that does not have the ability or the capacity to hold them long-term, and that's just not right either."

The mayor said the city was working to make sure to provide safety for the protesters on both sides and the immigrants alike.

"That plan still is in place," said Long. "So depending on what the Border Patrol decides to do, that really is up to them, but again, our plan always had the safety of everyone in mind."

Long said the immigration system is luring migrants from Central America into a "horrific" situation.

"The system that is in place right now lures these people into thinking they're coming to a better place, but on that journey, one-third of the females, some younger than their teens are raped along the way," said Long.

Long said his community also has concerns about immigrants coming "halfway across the nation" and being admitted to hospitals for health problems including "high fevers, scabies and possible TB."

"These human lives are not being taken care of and they should be taken care of as they cross the border," said Long. "Our military is able to set up cities in Third World countries all over the world and we can't set up temporary facilities here."

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, also on Sunday's show, told Crowley that the Obama administration is "one step behind" when it comes to dealing with the immigrant surge.

Immigration officials are sending about 20-25 flights back to Central America from Texas' airports, said Cuellar, but those are adults that are being sent back. However, children with no parents, and often women with children are being held and shipped off to places like Lackland Air Force base.

Cuellar said he believes that criminal organizations in Central America are taking advantage of the weaknesses in the U.S. immigration system, and are making millions out of smuggling people into the United States.

Meanwhile, he said people have the right to protest, like they did in Murrieta, but such protests need to be kept civil.

President Barack Obama has asked for $2 billion to help with the situation on the border, but Cuellar says he should have seen the immigration issue coming years ago.

And as for the possibility of Obama making any plans to visit the border, Cuellar said he thinks that would be nice, "but I think he still is one step behind...they're just not reacting fast enough at this time."

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