TEMECULA (CBSLA.com/AP) — Opponents of a planned U.S. Border Patrol effort to bring nearly 300 Central American migrants from South Texas to Southern California for processing are hailing an order by the federal government to put the operation on hold.
As part of the proposal from the Obama Administration, Paul Beeson, the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector chief, told The Associated Press Saturday that there would be two flights Monday with 140 passengers each. The flights were expected to continue every three days.
But on Sunday, agency spokesman Ralph DeSio said that he didn’t know why flights to San Diego and El Centro – about 100 miles east of San Diego – had been shelved. He added that planning is “in a very fluid state” and the operation could be reinstated.
Protesters in Temecula gathered Sunday over concerns that hundreds of illegal immigrants could soon begin arriving in southwest Riverside County and potentially be released into the community.
Patrice Lynes of Temecula, who organized the protest, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO she welcomes that the move of the migrants is now on hold.
“The Border Patrol is getting directives…to house people and then relocate them in the U.S., and that’s not okay with the U.S. citizen,” Lynes said. “In fact, it will harm our sovereignty of our nation.”
The Obama administration estimates it will catch 90,000 children trying to illegally cross the Mexican border without their parents by the end of the current budget year in September, according to The Associated Press. Last year, the government returned fewer than 2,000 children to their native countries.
In response to what officials have described as a humanitarian crisis, the government has asked the military to open temporary shelters in Texas, Oklahoma and California.
Thomas Baca, executive director of Catholic Charities in Las Cruces, New Mexico, said critics of the Border Patrol’s plans should consider the plight of undocumented families and children.
“I’m sure there’s people who disagree with that notion in terms of if you break the law, you’re a criminal and therefore you should have no rights, and all that stuff,” said Baca. “But these are real people, these are, you know, flesh and blood.”
Adult immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border illegally are generally removed from the U.S. within hours or days of their arrest.
But a federal law dating to President George W. Bush’s administration requires that unaccompanied child immigrants must be turned over to HHS within three days. From there, many are reunited with parents or other relatives already in the United States or other sponsors before the lengthy court process beings.
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