The group of mostly women and children from Central America was flown from Texas to Lindbergh Field Tuesday. Members of the group then boarded three Department of Homeland Security buses headed to the Riverside County USBP facility, but the buses turned back to San Diego County about 3:30 p.m. after hostile demonstrators blocked them in Murrieta in Riverside County.
The buses pulled into a Customs and Border Protection facility in San Ysidro late Tuesday afternoon, and helicopter video showed the immigrants get off and enter a fenced detention area.
Federal officials would not discuss plans for handling the immigrants, citing safety and security concerns. But Gabe Pacheco, a representative of the Border Patrol officers union, told Fox 5 that the immigrants were medically screened in San Ysidro, and a few of the children were taken to hospitals to be evaluated for undisclosed ailments. The rest of the group was dispersed overnight to seven Border Patrol stations in San Diego County for processing, he said.
Pacheco did not specify the number of immigrants sent to individual stations or where the stations are located. Border Patrol facilities in San Diego County include San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Campo and Boulevard.
None of the immigrants were sent to Murrieta or San Clemente, Pacheco said.
After being processed, the immigrants will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those planning on staying with family members or friends across the country will be taken to bus terminals or airports — but will be required to report to the nearest ICE facility for case management.
The group of immigrants were among tens of thousands of Central American nationals who have poured into the United States via Texas this year, according to ICE officials.
The Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector has been overwhelmed by the arrivals, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to seek other locations until their cases can be assessed.
“CBP will transfer certain individuals to U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Removal Operations, where appropriate custody determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing national security and public safety,” according to an ICE statement Monday.
The ICE document specified that Murrieta would be the end point for “processing” the individuals, noting they “may be released with instructions to report to a local ICE office near their destination address within 15 days.”
Following the standoff in Murrieta, ICE officials said that once the migrants are processed, they would be taken to a “transition center” in Riverside County set up by a faith-based organization that would help them arrange transportation to their final destinations and help them contact family members.
Republican Lt. Governor candidate Ron Nehring said in a statement to address the “humanitarian crisis” that the large number of Central American children being sent across dangerous terrain to illegally enter the country “are the victims of the failure of the federal government to create a safe, secure and modern border.”
“Poor economic and security conditions in Central America, combined with the rumor mill and the existence of cartels engaged in human, weapons and drug trafficking have precipitated this crisis in which the children are the real victims,” Nehring said.
He called for an improved immigration system that “serves our national and economic interests and respects our traditions of being a nation of immigrants.”
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, took to social media to express her dismay over how the migrants were treated.
“How people wave American flags in protest to immigrant women & children who just desperately want to make this their country, makes no sense,” Gonzalez said via Twitter.