— MURRIETA, Calif. (AP) — Demonstrators on both sides of the immigration debate gathered Friday outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Southern California where the agency was foiled earlier this week in an attempt to bus in and process some of the immigrants who have flooded the Texas border with Mexico.
The crowd numbered about 120 early in the day — about a third opposing illegal immigration and two thirds supporting immigrants. Shouting matches erupted but there was no violence.
About 15 officers from Murrieta Police Department, Riverside County sheriff's deputies and the Border Patrol kept demonstrators behind a line of yellow tape. The containment left open potential bus access to the station.
It was not certain, however, that any buses would arrive. The Department of Homeland security said that because of security concerns, it will not publicize immigrant transfers among border patrol facilities.
Earlier this week, Murrieta became the latest flashpoint in the intensifying immigration debate when a crowd of protesters waving American flags blocked buses carrying women and children migrants who were flown from overwhelmed Texas facilities to be processed at the station about 55 miles north of downtown San Diego.
The city's mayor became a hero to those seeking stronger immigration policies with his criticism of the federal government's efforts to handle the thousands of immigrants, many of them mothers and children, who have flooded the Texas border.
However, a message subsequently posted on the Murrieta city website by City Manager Rick Dudley said that Mayor Alan Long was only asserting that the local Border Patrol station was not an appropriate location for that purpose and was encouraging the community to contact its federal representatives.
The statement, suggesting that protesters had come from elsewhere in Southern California, expressed regret that the busloads of women and children had been forced to turn around.