Tags: Immigration | immigration | California | border | surge

California City With Spanish Heritage Flashpoint in Immigrant Debate

Friday, 04 Jul 2014 11:48 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The California city of Murrieta, named for Spanish sheep rancher brothers who settled there in the 1870s, is a flashpoint in the battle over immigration, with protesters turning away busloads of immigrants heading there for processing this past week, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But despite the growing protests in the San Diego bedroom community of 107,000, not everyone there opposes the migrants arriving at the U.S. Border Patrol outpost located there, the Journal said.

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Earlier this week, about 200 protesters lined up to turn away three buses of migrants, mainly women and children, who were sent to Murrieta for processing, and on Wednesday night, residents showed up for a town hall meeting to voice concerns and objections to the government's plan to send immigrants their way.

On Thursday, protesters remained outside Murrieta's city hall, saying they were there to keep their community from becoming a "dumping ground" for immigrants.

Another protest is planned at the border patrol station on Friday, in case more buses show up and opponents are arriving from neighboring communities, according to the Journal.

"What we're saying is right now [illegal] immigration needs to stop," Patrice Lynes, a retired nurse who has been organizing protests from the neighboring city of Temecula, told the Journal.

She said she has been receiving calls from all around the country after sending out email blasts about the immigrant issue, and calls it a "national situation."

But some local residents, including Grammy-winning musician Lupillo Rivera of Temecula, are speaking out in support of the migrants. Rivera, himself an immigrant from Mexico, told the Journal that he yelled at the protesters, "I'm your construction worker, I'm your baby sitter, I'm the one who cooks for you… cleans your hotel rooms."

Other supporters are planning a counter-demonstration along with Rivera on Friday.

"My goal for [Friday] is to show the city of Murrieta that we're not gonna tolerate racism," Rivera told the Journal.

Protesters say they aren't racists but are worried about the costs of accepting the migrants into their communities.

While the influx of migrants, mostly from Central America, has been termed a "humanitarian crisis" by the Obama administration, protesters in Murrieta and other locations are concerned by the number of unaccompanied minors, which has doubled to 47,000 in the last eight months.

In Murrieta, as of 2010, 55.7 percent of the city's residents identified as being white and not Hispanic, compared with 40 percent of the rest of the state.

But in nearby El Centro, where just 13.5 percent of the 43,000 residents identify as white, a group of immigrants arrived this week without incident, residents reported, according to the Journal.

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