Showdown over immigration: 'This is an invasion'

Willie Grace | 7/3/2014, 7:56 p.m. | Updated on 7/3/2014, 7:56 p.m.
The national controversy over a surge of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. border established a new battleground this ...

Long spoke to CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" later Wednesday.

"It's not against the immigrants," he said. "They're trying to leave a less desirable place and come to the greatest nation in the world. We can't blame them for that. ... No one's protesting that. What we're protesting is the product of a broken system that finally reached the doorstep of our community."

Long said that neither side in the national debate is coming up with a solution: "The problem still is there. The problem is in Washington, D.C."

The U.S. government is scheduled to send another group of undocumented immigrants to Murrieta for processing on Friday, a union official for Border Patrol agents said. Hadden also said he was told to expect 140 immigrants every 72 hours, with the next group scheduled to arrive on Friday, the Fourth of July.

Earlier Wednesday, immigration rights advocates denounced the protesters.

"It is deplorable that people espousing anti-immigrant hate language created unnecessary tension and fear for immigrant mothers and their children," Pedro Rios, a community representative of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, said in a statement. "Even more concerning is that elected officials in the City of Murrieta instigated this tension. Mothers and their children on these buses have suffered through enough trauma."

Intense debate

The furor in Murrieta illustrated the conflict between protecting the borders and ensuring the safety of detained immigrants and children.

Protester Ellen Meeks said the country's identity has eroded with an influx of undocumented immigrants.

"I just wish America would be America again because it's not, and it's not just pointed to the Hispanics," Meeks said. "Everybody needs to go through the legal ways."

Other protesters told CNN affiliate KGTV they wanted immigrants to follow the legal process to enter the United States.

"Everybody that wants to come to this nation is entitled to, but they should come the right way," Bob Cuccio told the news outlet.

"You bring in all these children and they're going to take over our schools," Bel Reeves added. "What's going to happen to the kids that were born and raised here?"

But immigration rights advocate Enrique Morones likened the migration to a refugee crisis and suggested racial antipathy was motivating protesters.

"If these children were from Canada, we would not be having this interview," Morones said. "The parents have had enough. They are saying, 'If I don't send my child north, they are going to die.'"

The U.S. government is struggling to detain and accommodate an influx of undocumented immigrants, particularly a wave of unaccompanied children from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The U.S. government doesn't have enough beds, food or sanitary facilities.

Authorities estimate 60,000 to 80,000 children without parents will cross the border this year in what the White House has called an "immediate humanitarian crisis."

Last month, the Obama administration unveiled a plan to spend almost $100 million in aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help reintegrate the undocumented migrants whom the United States will deport, and to help keep them in their home countries.

The administration also will set aside $161.5 million this year for the Central American Regional Security Initiative programs in an effort to "help stem migration flows as well as address the root cause of the migration," the White House said.

The Obama administration has accused syndicates in Latin America of waging a deliberate campaign of misinformation about relocating to the United States that has caused people in poor Central American countries and Mexico to risk their lives to cross the U.S. border illegally.

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