The group of 140 migrants was flown from Texas to Lindbergh Field Tuesday. Members of the group then boarded three Department of Homeland Security coaches headed to the Riverside County USBP facility, but the buses re-entered San Diego County about 3:30 p.m. after a hostile demonstration in Murrieta in Riverside County.
The reception in Chula Vista was much more low-key and less hostile. A handful of people met the buses carrying signs that said “THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND,” “COMPASION” and “WELCOME.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack declined to say where the migrants were being taken, but by late afternoon Tuesday, the buses were seen pulling into a Customs and Border Protection facility in San Ysidro.
Border Patrol officials said each of the migrants was being medically screened at the San Ysidro facility Tuesday night, and a few of the children were taken to hospitals to be evaluated for undisclosed ailments.
After being processed, the migrants will be turned over to ICE. 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.
Border Patrol facilities in Southern California include El Cajon, El Centro, Chula Vista, Campo, Boulevard and San Clemente.
Tuesday’s departure of the migrants from the Riverside area marked a victory for roughly two dozen protesters who gathered to decry the foreigners’ arrival, many waving flags and others carrying signs reading “Stop Illegal Immigration” and “Return to Sender.”
The group of migrants 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.