MURRIETA, Calif. - A California mayor urged residents on Monday to fight a plan to fly migrant families from Texas for processing at a border patrol facility in his city as police start a hotline and prepare to field questions about the transfers.
Murrieta Mayor Alan Long said border officials told him a flight carrying 140 people was expected Tuesday. Migrants will be processed at the border patrol facility in the city and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Police are ready for any security issues, and a mobile hospital unit will be positioned outside the facility to provide additional medical screening if needed, Long said. He acknowledged that migrants would not be released locally and do not have criminal records.
Still, he urged residents in the suburb of 107,000 people some 60 miles north of San Diego to call their elected officials and voice opposition to the plan.
"We want to make sure everyone is doing what they say they're going to do," Long told reporters.
Although Long is airing his concerns about the influx of migrants to Murrieta, others do not agree and believe anticipations of disruption have no basis in fact.
"Most of the fears and things about disease and criminality and about the border being let open to everybody they just are not really true," Ev Meade told CBS San Diego. Meade, who serves as Director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego explained that once the migrants are processed, ICE agents will take custody of them, handle their hearings and guide them to their destinations.
"That is not just them punching some kind of meal tickets. They take fingerprints and they check federal law enforcement data bases," said Meade.
U.S. border and immigration authorities confirmed they were about to begin processing migrants in California but did not pinpoint a date for the arrival of flights.
U.S. authorities announced last week that Central American migrants would be flown from the Rio Grande Valley to Texas cities and Southern California. The plan is intended to help relieve a crunch caused when thousands of people arrived at the border fleeing violence and extortion from gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Many of the migrants are under the impression that they will receive leniency from U.S. authorities. Once the migrants are processed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will decide who can be released while awaiting deportation proceedings.
Another flight was expected to take 140 migrants to a facility in El Centro, California, on Wednesday, said Lombardo Amaya, president of the El Centro chapter of the Border Patrol union. The Border Patrol would not confirm that arrival date.