MURRIETA (CBS/AP) — Murrieta Mayor Alan Long 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.
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 said.
KCAL9’s Tom Wait reports the mayor also tried to reassure constituents their safety is not in jeopardy during a community meeting Monday.
“What we’ve been told is that most of these immigrants are families. These are mothers and young children, or fathers and young children,” he said. “What will happen is once they’re processed by the border patrol they’ll be released to ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents who make sure they get to their destination or transportation hubs.”
Long’s words, however, did little to soothe the heated crowd.
“I’d like to know, sir – do we have a plan? And I’d like to know what the plan is in the event that these people are starting to be dumped all over town,” one concerned resident asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t feel that our officials – and I apologize to everybody – are being really honest,” Diana Serafin said.
“It’s crazy to me. It’s scary. The unknown. What’s going to happen with all this?” Vanessa Brown later told Wait.
“I’m still in the dark… There’s been a lot of talk. They’ve accomplished nothing,” resident Jim Quayle said.
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.
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